Ukrainian drones strike Russian ships in Sea of Azov, reports suggest

Throughout Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Kyiv has landed several high-profile strikes on Russian Black Sea Fleet ships and infrastructure, forcing many vessels to relocate northeast from Sevastopol in occupied Crimea to Novorossiysk and other ports.

Kyiv’s campaign to degrade Russia’s naval forces appears to be extending into the Sea of Azov, with multiple reports indicating Ukrainian drones have struck Russian vessels relocated to the body of water in an attempt to evade attacks.

Throughout Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Kyiv has landed several high-profile strikes on Russian Black Sea Fleet ships and infrastructure, forcing many vessels to relocate northeast from Sevastopol in occupied Crimea to Novorossiysk and other ports. Satellite imagery earlier this month revealed at least 18 Russian naval ships, including patrol ships and landing craft, had departed Novorossiysk, likely moving into the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov to reduce their vulnerability to Ukrainian strikes.

However, it now seems even those repositioned forces are not safe from Kyiv’s drones. The British outlet Sky News reported that Ukrainian forces carried out a coordinated strike overnight Saturday against a Russian Ropucha-class landing ship that had moved into the Sea of Azov, which is connected to the Black Sea via the Kerch Strait.

The Ukrainian Telegram channel Crimean Wind and Mariupol mayoral adviser Petro Andryushchenko provided additional details, claiming a vessel was hit near the port of Yeysk in Russia’s Krasnodar region. But there are conflicting reports on exactly what type of ship was struck. While some sources indicated it was a large Ropucha landing ship, Crimean Wind suggested satellite imagery from Sunday morning showed a Vasily Bykov-class patrol ship may have been the target instead.

This strike would mark the first time Ukrainian forces have successfully targeted Russian ships in the Sea of Azov, signalling Kyiv’s intention to threaten Moscow’s naval assets and maritime infrastructure beyond the Black Sea. Despite Russia’s efforts to reposition vessels, no body of water may be safe from Ukraine’s ever-increasing drone capabilities and strike range.