Ukraine sinks Russian Black Sea patrol ship Sergey Kotov near Crimea

Ukraine said Tuesday it had sunk a Russian patrol ship off the coast of occupied Crimea, claiming another victory over the Kremlin’s forces in the hotly contested waters of the Black Sea.

Moscow did not confirm the claim, which would represent the latest blow to its naval power as Kyiv strikes targets deep behind the war’s front lines even as its army suffers setbacks on the battlefield. 

Ukraine’s military intelligence agency said that it had used high-tech sea drones in an overnight attack on the large patrol ship Sergey Kotov near the Kerch Strait, which separates the annexed peninsula’s eastern coast from mainland Russia. 

The agency published a video purporting to show the ship being blown up and going up in flames. It did not say anything about the fate of the ship’s crew.

NBC News could not independently verify the video, or confirm the extent of the damage to the ship or personnel losses. 

The ship can reportedly carry cruise missiles and around 60 crew, according to The Associated Press.

A Telegram channel tracking traffic on the nearby Kerch Bridge said traffic was temporarily suspended overnight, without specifying the reason. The traffic on the bridge resumed early Tuesday. 

Ukraine has dealt Russia’s Black Sea Fleet a number of costly blows in the last year, despite an unsuccessful counteroffensive on the ground.

Russia Regions Navy Day
The Sergey Kotov patrol ship during a Navy Day parade in Novorossiysk, Russia in 2022.Vitaly Timkiv / Sputnik via AP file

It’s been losing territory to new Russian offensives in recent weeks, hampered by ammunition shortages and stalled Western aid, but Kyiv appears to still be able to mount operations at sea.

In the early months of the war, Ukraine sank the flagship Moskva with hundreds of crew on board. 

More recently, Kyiv has deployed its own uncrewed sea drones laden with explosives to threaten Russian vessels.

The attacks around Crimea have helped push Moscow’s naval forces back to their own Black Sea ports, allowing Kyiv more freedom of navigation and control of an area crucial to exporting grain.

Just last month, Ukraine claimed it sank the Caesar Kunikov landing ship off the coast of Crimea. Two weeks before that, its military intelligence claimed to have sunk the corvette Ivanovets, also off the peninsula’s coast. Those attacks were never acknowledged by Russia. 

There was no immediate reaction from the Russian Defense Ministry to Tuesday’s sinking either. It did not return NBC News’ request for comment. However, some Russian military bloggers reported that the ship was destroyed, with conflicting information about the crew.

Sergey Kotov appears to be one of Russia’s newest, state-of-the-art ships. It was only launched in 2021, according to the Defense Ministry. Ukraine said it had cost about $65 million.

In an apparent reference to the attack Tuesday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, called the Russian Black Sea Fleet a “symbol of occupation” that does not belong in Crimea.