KIEV, Ukraine (AP) – Moscow promised retaliation on Saturday after Ukrainian drones struck a Russian tanker in the Black Sea near Crimea late on Friday. It was the second drone attack in one day.
Ukraine hit a major Russian port earlier on Friday.
Moscow strongly condemned what it saw as a Ukrainian “terrorist attack” on a civilian ship in the Kerch Strait, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
“There can be no justification for such barbaric acts, they will not go unanswered and their authors and perpetrators will inevitably be punished,” she wrote on the messaging app Telegram.
As Kiev’s naval capabilities grow, the Black Sea is becoming an increasingly important battlefield in war.
Three weeks ago, Moscow withdrew from an important export agreement This enabled Ukraine to ship millions of tons of grain across the Black Sea and sell it on world markets. In the wake of this retreat, Russia launched repeated attacks on Ukrainian ports, including Odessa.
An official from Ukraine’s Security Service confirmed to The Associated Press that the service was behind the attack on the tanker carrying fuel for Russian forces. A sea drone filled with 450 kilograms (992 pounds) of TNT was used in the attack, added the official, who asked to remain anonymous as he was not authorized to make official statements.
“The Sig tanker… suffered a hole in the engine room near the waterline on the starboard side, presumably as a result of a sea drone attack,” Russia’s Federal Maritime and River Navigation Agency wrote on Telegram, adding that there were no casualties among the 11 crew members.
Vladimir Rogov, a Kremlin-deployed official in Ukraine’s partially occupied southern Zaporizhia region, said several members of the ship’s crew were injured by broken glass.
Without elaborating on Ukraine’s responsibility for the drone attack, Vasyl Malyuk, head of Ukraine’s Security Service, said that “such special operations are carried out in Ukraine’s territorial waters and are perfectly legal.” Such explosions were “an absolutely logical and effective step.” against the enemy”.
The attack temporarily paralyzed traffic on the Kerch Bridge and ferry traffic.
According to the Russian news agency Tass, tugboats were deployed to help the tanker, which the United States has imposed sanctions on for helping to deliver fuel to Russian forces fighting in Syria.
Ukraine’s earlier attack on Novorossiysk halted maritime traffic for several hours and was the first time a Russian trading port had been attacked the nearly 18-month-old conflict. The port has a naval base, shipyards and an oil terminal and is central to exports. It is about 110 kilometers (about 60 miles) east of Crimea.
Shipping expert Jayendu Krishna told The Associated Press that the attacks left Russian shipping activity “largely unaffected”. He believes they could increase the risk of Russian attacks on Ukrainian ports, rather than being used as a tool to pressure Russia to stop the attacks and restore the grain deal.
“Every time something happens to Russia, you see Putin in retaliatory mode… Hence, there may be further attacks on other parts of Ukraine,” Krishna said.
“I think it will likely increase the impact and risk in the Black Sea rather than reduce it,” he added. “It is very difficult for me to imagine that Russia will give in until its banks function smoothly and they can export their own cargo non-stop.”
A Telegram post by Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday indicated that Russia would step up attacks on Ukrainian ports in response to Kiev’s attacks on Russian ships in the Black Sea:
“Apparently the attacks on Odessa, Ismail and other places were not enough for them,” he wrote.
In addition, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday it had seized a settlement in Ukraine’s easternmost region of Luhansk, which is mostly occupied by Russia. “In the Kupyansk region … the settlement of Novoselivske was liberated,” the ministry wrote on Telegram.
Elsewhere in Saudi Arabia, a two-day summit to seek a peaceful solution to the war began.
Senior officials from around 40 countries — but not Russia — will try to agree on key principles to end the conflict.
“This is very important because when it comes to food security issues, the fate of millions of people in Africa, Asia and other parts of the world directly depends on how quickly the world implements the peace formula,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said of the summit . “I am grateful to Saudi Arabia for this negotiating platform.”
Speaking about the talks in a television interview published on his Telegram account on Friday evening, Ukraine’s main envoy to the Jeddah summit, chief adviser to Ukrainian President Andriy Yermak, said: “I expect the talks will be difficult, but that’s behind us Truth.” Behind us, goodness,” he said.
Speaking about the talks in Saudi Arabia, Zakharova told Russian state media that the idea of making decisions about the conflict without Moscow’s involvement was “absurd”. Still, she said, delegates had “full scope for creativity” to discuss the issue.