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New Videos Add Complexity to Claims of Drone Attack on Russian Warship

Ivan Khurs drone attack
Telegram / Ukrainian Ministry of Defense

Published May 28, 2023 9:58 PM by The Maritime Executive

New videos released by Ukrainian and Russian sources appear to tell conflicting stories about whether the Russian Navy surveillance ship Ivan Khurs may have suffered damage in a drone-boat strike last week. 

At 0530 hours last Wednesday morning, the Ukrainian armed forces attempted to attack the surveillance ship Ivan Khurs using three unmanned speedboats, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense. The strike was not successful, and all three boats were destroyed by the Khurs' pedestal-mounted machine guns. The ministry released a video appearing to show a black drone boat approaching the camera at speed and attempting to evade a stream of machine gun fire. The small craft exploded before reaching target. 

Later in the week, the Ukrainian defense ministry released a different video taken from the viewpoint of a drone. The attack craft appears to make for the Khurs' transom at speed, dodging machine gun fire as it closes in. The video cuts briefly, then shows the drone dashing in towards the ship's port quarter, where the video cuts out. 

"When the Russian reconnaissance ship Ivan Khurs met a Ukrainian drone. Indeed, a perfect match!" said the ministry in a social media message accompanying the video. 

The ministry also released a grainy, stop-motion video that (it claims) shows an explosion on the Khurs' port quarter. 

While this might imply that the Khurs was hit, the Russian Black Sea Fleet followed up with "official" imagery purporting to show the ship arriving in Sevastopol under her own power, unharmed. 

As with most disputed media releases from the war zone, determining the veracity of the footage and the facts of what happened that day will be difficult from social media releases alone. However, one organization may have a better view of the true events on the ground: The U.S. Air Force was operating a sophisticated Global Hawk surveillance aircraft in the vicinity of the attack, and the aircraft remained in the area for hours afterwards.