Russia says Ukrainian boat destroyed in Black Sea clash

Moscow targeted by Ukrainian drones for fifth consecutive night

MOSCOW: Moscow said Tuesday it destroyed a Ukrainian military reconnaissance vessel near Russian gas infrastructure in the Black Sea, in the latest clash in the waterway since Moscow’s withdrawal from a major grain export deal. Attacks by both sides have escalated in the Black Sea since Russia in July pulled out of the United Nations-brokered deal that allowed the safe export of Ukrainian grain through the shipping hub. Russia has bombed Ukrainian port infrastructure in sea and on the Danube, while Ukraine has attacked Russian ships in its waters and the Crimean Peninsula, which was annexed by Moscow in 2014.

Russia’s defense ministry said one of its Sukhoi Su-30sm jets had destroyed the Ukrainian “reconnaissance boat” near Russian gas production facilities in the Black Sea. It did not give details on what kind of boat had been destroyed, or where exactly the incident took place. The incident came after the first civilian cargo ship sailing through the Black Sea from Ukraine recently arrived in Istanbul in defiance of the Russian blockade.

Moscow said last month that it would consider any ships nearing Ukraine in the Black Sea as potential military cargo carriers, following the grain deal collapse. The defense ministry also said its forces had downed two Ukrainian drones, 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of the Crimean Peninsula on the Black Sea.

Moscow targeted

The Moscow region was also targeted by Ukrainian drones for a fifth consecutive night, Russian authorities said early Tuesday. Aerial defense systems downed one attack drone each in the Krasnogorsk and Chastsy areas of the region, mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote on social media. AFP journalists on the scene in Krasnogorsk saw a high-rise residential building with several windows blown out, debris and a damaged car. Russia’s defense ministry said there had been no casualties in the attack but Moscow’s Vnukovo, Sheremetyevo and Domodedovo airports briefly halted flights, Russian news agencies reported.

Two other Ukrainian drones were downed over the Bryansk region near the Ukrainian border early Tuesday, Moscow’s defense ministry said, adding there were no casualties. The strikes are the latest in a recent wave of air attacks deep inside Russian territory, including two drones which were shot down near the Kremlin in May.

The aerial threat is also being addressed in the classroom. Russian teenagers will learn how to operate and counter military drones in the upcoming school year, according to a curriculum published Monday by the education ministry. Moscow announced last November it was re-introducing Soviet-style military training for children from 2023, as it presses ahead with its nearly 18-month offensive in Ukraine.


The wave of drone attacks in Russia came as Ukrainian forces said they have pushed into the village of Robotyne on the southern front and evacuated civilians in armored vehicles. “The Russians are continuously shelling Robotyne with artillery,” Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Ganna Malyar said on social media. Ukraine has posted limited gains in its push to dislodge Russian forces from territory and appealed to Western allies for greater military support.

President Volodymyr Zelensky this week secured the delivery of more than 40 F-16 fighter jets during a trip to the Netherlands and Denmark, while Greece said it would help train Ukrainian pilots. Zelensky had sought the advanced jets for months to strengthen Ukraine’s Soviet-era air force as it pursues the grinding counteroffensive against Russian forces in the east and south.

But training by an 11-nation coalition is to begin this month, and officials hope pilots will be ready by early 2024. The long-sought F-16 deal drew a warning from Russia, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warning Moscow would consider the jets a “nuclear” threat because of their capacity to carry atomic weapons. – AFP

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