Ukrainian military confirms destruction of Russian raiding tugboat off Crimea Coast

Satellite images appeared to show damage at a Black Sea naval facility in Crimea following the attack, with Russian state media reporting that air defences were activated against an apparent drone strike.

Ukraine’s military intelligence agency (HUR) has confirmed that the vessel destroyed in an overnight strike off the coast of Russian-occupied Crimea was a Project 498 “Saturn” raiding tugboat belonging to Moscow’s forces.

The maritime strike, which occurred in the early hours of June 6, dealt another blow to Russia’s Black Sea capabilities which have already been significantly degraded since the start of the invasion last year.

Satellite images appeared to show damage at a Black Sea naval facility in Crimea following the attack, with Russian state media reporting that air defences were activated against an apparent drone strike.

The “Saturn” raiding tugboats were designed in the Soviet era as small utility boats to support amphibious operations and raids. Their armaments typically include machine guns and anti-aircraft missiles.

Ukraine has carried out an increasing number of strikes against Russian targets on the Crimean peninsula and around the Black Sea in recent months as Kyiv’s forces make gains with new longer-range weapons provided by Western allies.

Just last week, Moscow claimed to have repelled a drone attack on Crimea after suspected Ukrainian maritime drones struck Russian ships in the Black Sea. The raiding tugboat strike comes as Ukraine is expected to launch a major counter-offensive in the southern regions in hopes of breaking through Russian defensive lines. Degrading Moscow’s naval capabilities around Crimea could aid that push.

While Ukraine has stopped short of publicly claiming responsibility, the strikes appear part of an effort to disrupt Russian operations in Crimea and cut off maritime supply routes supporting the Kremlin’s invasion force.

Russia has responded by reinforcing its positions on Crimea and vowing harsh retaliation for any further attacks on its territory. But Ukrainian officials have signalled more maritime strikes could be coming as the war drags on.