Russian Navy Claims to Have Thwarted Bomb-Boat Attack on Two Patrol Ships
The Russian military claims to have thwarted another Ukrainian drone-boat attack on Russian Navy patrol vessels in the southwestern Black Sea, according to state media.
The Russian Ministry of Defense told state outlet TASS that Ukrainian forces attempted to attack two patrol ships at a position about 180 nautical miles to the southwest of Russian-occupied Sevastopol. The attempted strike involved three of Ukraine's unmanned bomb boats, the ministry said.
The patrol ships involved were identified as the Sergei Kotov and the Vasily Bykov, and the position described by TASS would put them off the coast of Bulgaria, next to the shipping lanes from the Bosporus to Ukraine. Russia has threatened to treat any Ukraine-bound ships as potential weapons carriers, subject to the risk of boarding and inspection. So far, no merchant ships transiting the route have reported overt interference by Russian warships; three foreign-flag vessels recently made the voyage across the western Baltic to Ukraine's Danube ports without signs of difficulty.
Sergei Kotov was deployed to monitor Ukraine's sea lines of communication after Russia exited the Black Sea Grain Initiative last month. According to UK Defence Intelligence, "there is a realistic possibility that [Kotov] will form part of a task group to intercept commercial vessels Russia believes are heading to Ukraine." The agency warned that there is a potential for the "intensity and scope of violence in the area to increase."
The Kremlin previously claimed that the Kotov "neutralized" two attacking bomb boats in about the same position, some 200 nautical miles to the southwest of Sevastopol. The earlier incident reportedly occurred on July 25.
Ukraine has not confirmed or acknowledged responsibility for either strike. Kyiv does not often claim attacks on Russian assets outside of its pre-2014 border, though it frequently hints at involvement.