Centre for Defence Strategies

Ukraine war: Does attack on Russian ship make a difference?

It was an explosion which filled the sky and lifted Ukrainian morale.

For Kyiv, the sight of Russia’s Novocherkassk landing ship being hit in an air strike was a much-needed boost.

With Russia gaining the upper hand in recent weeks and the West’s support stuttering, Ukraine has produced another dramatic missile strike in occupied Crimea.

Spectacular? No doubt. But was it significant?

“As a battleship, you might think it’s not crucial,” explains Alina Frolova, who was Ukraine’s deputy defence minister between 2019-2020 and is now with the country’s Centre for Defence Strategies.

“But we need to look at the full context, it’s a step-by-step process.”

Both Ukraine and the UK now say that 20% of Russia’s Black Sea Naval Fleet has been destroyed since the start of its full-scale invasion – no mean feat for Ukraine, a country whose navy barely has any ships.

Mostly, Russia’s vessels have been destroyed with long-range Storm Shadow missiles supplied by the West.

That has diminished Russia’s ability to launch missile strikes from the sea, and any possibility of it mounting an amphibious attack from the sea is even less likely. It has also unblocked ports like Odesa which has allowed Ukrainian and international cargo ships to travel along an unofficial route.

Frolova thinks this latest strike in Feodosia is a continuation of Ukraine squeezing Russian supply routes to Crimea, and therefore weakening Moscow’s grip on the peninsula, which it has held since seizing it in 2014.

“It demonstrates Ukraine’s Air Force can operate in the face of Russian air defences,” she says. “Ships like this are used to deliver ammunition and drones. Based on the detonation, there were a substantial number of explosives on board.”

Ukraine’s Navy claims up to 80 people were on board too.

Source: BBC