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Ukraine Attacks Two More Russian Amphibs in Sevastopol

A Ropucha-class landing ship (Russian Ministry of Defense file image)
A Ropucha-class landing ship (Russian Ministry of Defense file image)

Published Mar 24, 2024 11:57 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

Ukrainian forces have added two more tank landing ships to their long list of successful strikes on Russia's Black Sea Fleet. 

Overnight Friday, the Ukrainian Air Force hit the Ropucha-class landing ships Yamal and Azov at their berths in Russian-occupied Sevastopol, according to Ukraine's defense ministry. In addition, the ministry claimed that it hit the Black Sea Fleet's communications center and several other facilities.

While Russian social media channels published extensive footage of the attack, the extent of the damage could not be immediately confirmed. 

Sevastopol's air defenses have proven vulnerable to the British/French-built Storm Shadow stealth cruise missile system, which can be launched by Ukraine's Soviet-era strike fighters. Ukrainian Storm Shadow strikes hit the Black Sea Fleet's backup command center and main headquarters building in Sevastopol last year, along with a tank landing ship and an attack submarine in drydock. Much of the Black Sea Fleet has relocated eastward to the relative safety of Novorossiysk, out of range; it was not immediately clear why two tank landing ships remained at a targetable pier in Sevastopol. Both the commander of the Black Sea Fleet and the commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy have recently been removed and replaced.

"Putin's continued illegal occupation of Ukraine is exacting a massive cost on Russia's Black Sea Fleet which is now functionally inactive. Russia has sailed the Black Sea since 1783 but is now forced to constrain its fleet to port. And even there Putin's ships are sinking!" said UK Defence Minister Grant Shapps in a statement. 

While valuable for morale,  the attack on the two landing ships may not have much practical impact, according to some Western analysts. Up until recently, these vessels were an essential part of the supply chain for Russian troops in occupied southern Ukraine. That may not be the case much longer, according to defense commentator David Axe. The Russian military's rail division has completed a new 60-kilometer line extension connecting Donetsk to Berdansk, UK defense intelligence confirms. Ultimately the line will connect the Russian border to the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula, bypassing both the Kerch Strait Bridge and the maritime supply route provided by Russian Navy amphibs.