Ukraine May Have Attacked Russian Frigate Near Snake Island

Admiral Makarov (File image courtesy Russian Navy)

Published May 6, 2022 6:29 PM by The Maritime Executive

Ukrainian forces may have successfully attacked another Russian Navy vessel in the Black Sea, according to Ukrainian member of parliament Oleksiy Goncharenko. In a social media statement, he claimed that the Russian frigate Admiral Makarov has been hit and damaged by a Neptune missile, the same Ukrainian coastal-defense system that sank the cruiser Moskva

If the reports are accurate, it would represent a significant success for Ukrainian forces. The 2017-built Makarov is one of the Russian Navy's most modern surface combatants, and is equipped with advanced air-defense systems, including the capable BUK surface-to-air missile system. It is also a launch platform for Kalibr and Oniks cruise missiles, which have been used extensively to bombard targets deep inside Ukraine. 

Ukrainian presidential advisor Anton Gerashchenko confirmed the strike in a Telegram post and said that multiple Russian Navy vessels had been dispatched to assist the Makarov. Aircraft tracking data confirms an unusual level of surveillance activity in the area near Snake Island, the region where Makarov was allegedly attacked. 

Presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych gave a more enigmatic answer about the Makarov's fate. "Drowned [sunk] - probably not, maybe hit. I'm not ready to say ‘yes' or ‘no’ yet," he told security expert and commentator Dmitry Alperovich. 

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, told Russian state media that he did not have information about any attack on the vessel. 

Likewise, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said that the United States has no information to confirm a Ukrainian strike on the Makarov. "We've been looking at this all day," he told Foreign Policy's Jack Detsch. 

Ukrainian forces have repeatedly targeted Russian positions on Snake Island in recent weeks, destroying air-defense systems and two Russian patrol boats.

The Russian Navy has suffered two significant losses since the beginning of the invasion in February. An Alligator-class tank landing ship exploded and sank at the pier in Berdyansk on March 24, and Ukraine claimed responsibility. At least one other amphibious vessel appears to have been damaged in the incident. 

In addition, the cruiser Moskva was hit by two Ukrainian Neptune missiles on April 13, according to U.S. sources, resulting in her sinking the following day. Russia asserts that the casualty was caused by an accidental fire, and that only 28 crewmembers were lost. 

Off the record, U.S. officials have told at least three news outlets that U.S. intelligence information was used in the attack on the Moskva. White House press secretary Jen Psaki denied these reports on Friday, saying that they were "inaccurate." 

"We did not provide Ukraine with specific targeting information for the Moskva. We were not involved in the Ukrainians’ decision to strike the ship or in the operation they carried out," Psaki said.