- Hans Weber
- December 7, 2023
Naval Drone Targets Russian Tanker Near Kerch Strait, Escalating Black Sea Tensions
During the overnight hours, a naval drone targeted a Russian tanker near the Kerch Strait, causing significant damage and rendering the vessel unable to sail independently. Reports from Ukrinform and TASS agencies confirm the incident. According to sources from Interfax-Ukraine and the Ukrainian BBC, the attack is attributed to the Ukrainian secret service SBU, though no official statement has been released by Kiev.
In a dramatic escalation of tensions in the Black Sea region, a Russian tanker has come under attack near the Kerch Strait. The incident, reported by multiple news agencies including Ukrinform and TASS, allegedly involved a Ukrainian naval drone and resulted in considerable damage to the targeted vessel, a Russian Federation SIG tanker. While no official statement has been issued by the Ukrainian government, sources indicate the involvement of the Ukrainian secret service SBU in collaboration with the Navy.
The tanker in question was purportedly transporting fuel for the Russian military and had been subject to US sanctions. It was classified as non-civilian, falling under the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s ban on transporting military cargo. The attack, which took place within Ukrainian territorial waters, utilized approximately 450 kilograms of TNT, as reported by Interfax-Ukraine.
Russian authorities have acknowledged the incident, stating that the tanker’s engine room suffered damage, but no fuel leakage was reported. The vessel was approached by two tugboats from the Russian port of Novorossiysk.
Conflicting statements from both parties and the absence of independent verification make it challenging to ascertain the exact details of the attack. However, social media images have surfaced, showing the extent of damage to the partially flooded tanker, including the engine room.
The situation in the Black Sea region has been tense, with recent incidents involving Ukrainian attacks on Russian vessels. A day before the tanker incident, the SBU claimed responsibility for hitting a Russian 775-class landing ship, the Olenegorsky Gornyak, near the port of Novorossiysk. The Russian Ministry of Defence denied the extent of the damage, but the British Ministry of Defence analyzed the situation and indicated that the Russian landing ship likely sustained serious damage.
The conflict in the region has further intensified following the expiration of grain agreements, enabling Ukrainian food exports through the Black Sea. Russia’s recent attacks on Ukrainian Black Sea ports, including the destruction of grain warehouses in the port of Izmail on the Danube, have added to the growing tensions.
As the situation unfolds, international attention remains on the Black Sea region, with concerns over the potential for further escalation. The absence of official statements from both parties and the lack of independent verification raise questions about the motives behind the attack and the potential implications on regional stability. Diplomatic efforts and careful monitoring by the international community will be crucial in preventing further escalation and finding a peaceful resolution to the escalating tensions in the Black Sea.
Article by Prague Forum
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- Hans Weber
- December 7, 2023