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Ukraine's military says it sank a Russian landing ship in the Black Sea

A Russian ship named Caesar Kunikov passes through the Dardanelles strait in Turkey en route to the Mediterranean Sea, on Oct. 4, 2015.
Burak Gezen
A Russian ship named Caesar Kunikov passes through the Dardanelles strait in Turkey en route to the Mediterranean Sea, on Oct. 4, 2015.

Updated February 14, 2024 at 2:44 PM ET

KHARKIV, Ukraine — Ukraine's military says it sank a large Russian landing ship in the Black Sea off the coast of occupied Crimea, although Russia's government has so far not confirmed the incident.

"The Armed Forces of Ukraine, together with the units of the [defense intelligence] @DI_Ukraine, destroyed the Caesar Kunikov large landing ship. At the time of the attack, the ship was in the territorial waters of Ukraine, near Alupka," the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said on X, formerly Twitter, on Wednesday.

Ukraine said it used maritime strike drones in the attack, sinking the ship 2.5 miles off Alupka, a city on the southern coast of the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Ukraine's general staff said the ship could carry 87 crew members, but it is unclear how many were aboard.

The Kremlin declined to comment to journalists, saying it was a matter for the Defense Ministry.

Earlier in the day, Russia's Defense Ministry said it had destroyed six drones over the Black Sea, but it did not discuss Ukraine's claims.

Ukraine's military intelligence said it intercepted Russian radio communications from where the ship was moored. In one conversation, the agency said in a statement, a Russian soldier was allegedly heard saying only "wreckage and an oily stain" remained of the Russian vessel.

The reports came as Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine nears its second anniversary this month.

Ukraine has previously used naval drones to drive Russian warships out of parts of the Black Sea. That has helped open a shipping corridor for Ukraine's grain exports, which Ukrainian authorities now say are at prewar levels.

NPR's Charles Maynes contributed reporting from Moscow.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Joanna Kakissis is a foreign correspondent based in Kyiv, Ukraine, where she reports poignant stories of a conflict that has upended millions of lives, affected global energy and food supplies and pitted NATO against Russia.