Espreso. Global

Landing ship destruction, explosions in Sevastopol, drones over Belgorod region: This week's blasts in Russia

1 January, 2024 Monday

The most resonant event of the week was the destruction of the large landing ship Novocherkassk of the Russian Black Sea Fleet during a strike on the bay in Feodosia, but this is not the only blast that awaited Russia

Read more about explosions in Russia and the temporarily occupied territories in Espreso's weekly review.

Destruction of a landing ship, fire on a nuclear icebreaker in Murmansk and explosions in Sevastopol

  • The nuclear-powered container ship Sevmorput was on fire near the berth of the federal state unitary enterprise Atomflot in Murmansk, Russia. This is a Russian nuclear cargo ship, a lighter carrier. It was built in 1988 and is one of the four nuclear-powered merchant ships that once existed. It returned to service in 2016 after extensive repairs. The fire occurred in one of the cabins. The area of the fire was 30 square meters.
  • On the night of Tuesday, December 26, residents of Feodosia in Russian-occupied Crimea reported loud explosions over the city. The Ukrainian Armed Forces confirmed that a large landing ship Novocherkassk was hit. According to eyewitnesses, several explosions were heard in the port area, after which traces of smoke appeared in the sky. Earlier, traffic on the Crimean Bridge was temporarily blocked. There were 77 sailors on board the ship when it hit the bay in Feodosia: 23 were injured, one was killed. "33 sailors are missing, 23 people are wounded, and one was killed as a result of the attack on the Novocherkassk ship in the port of Feodosia," the statement said. In addition, the wreckage of a Storm Shadow missile was found at the site.
  • On the night of December 28, explosions were heard in the temporarily occupied Sevastopol, air defense systems were operating, and the traffic on the Crimean bridge was blocked. According to the so-called governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev, the air defense system was activated over the sea in Sevastopol. Russia claims to have destroyed one drone. There is allegedly no damage to the infrastructure. Later, the Russian Defense Ministry clarified that two Ukrainian UAVs were allegedly shot down.
  • Meanwhile, on the morning of December 30, a powerful explosion occurred in the central part of Sevastopol. The Russian Defense Ministry and the local puppet authorities claimed that a Ukrainian naval drone had carried out the attack. The Ukrainian Armed Forces have not yet commented on the incident. According to a correspondent of Radio Liberty’s Crimea. Realities project, the explosion was powerful enough to cause glass to shake in the houses. Later, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced an alleged attack on the Crimean peninsula by a Ukrainian unmanned boat that they found in the Black Sea. Russia claimed to have destroyed the Ukrainian maritime drone with a patrol boat of the Russian Black Sea Fleet around 10:00 am local time.

The Crimean Bridge

Photo: Gettyimages

Drones over Russia’s Kursk, Belgorod and Rostov regions

  • On December 27, Russia claimed the alleged downing of two drones over the territories of Belgorod and Rostov regions. "On the night of December 27, air defense forces shot down a drone over the territory of the Rostov region. The consequences on the ground are being clarified," Rostov Region Governor Golubev wrote. Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that another UAV had been shot down over the territory of the Belgorod region. "Two Ukrainian UAVs were destroyed by regular air defense systems over the territories of Belgorod and Rostov regions," the statement said.
  • On the morning of December 29, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced an alleged drone attack on the Kursk region. It noted that Russian air defense allegedly shot down the UAV.
  • And on December 30, Russia reported an attack on Belgorod, Bryansk, Moscow, Kursk, and Oryol regions: the alleged target of the attack was a plant that manufactures components for Iskander and Pantsir. Air defense forces shot down several targets on the approach to Belgorod. According to preliminary data, one person was killed and four were injured, said Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of the Belgorod region. The Russian Defense Ministry said air defense destroyed 13 MLRS missiles over the Belgorod region. Russian Telegram channels reported that, according to preliminary information, the Kremniy EL radio factory in Bryansk, which produces parts for Russian weapons, was attacked again. Later, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that 32 unmanned aerial vehicles were shot down over the territories of Bryansk, Orel, Kursk, and Moscow regions on the night of December 30.
  • On the afternoon of December 30, explosions were heard in the center of Russian Belgorod. Local authorities reported that the city was under a drone attack, allegedly killing 24 people and injuring 108. Ukraine's intelligence services told the media that the Ukrainian Armed Forces had struck military facilities in the city. The governor of the Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said that the Ukrainian Armed Forces allegedly attacked the center of Belgorod and hit the residential sector. Local Telegram channels published videos and photos showing fires, smoke, and infrastructure damage. Later, Ukrainian media, citing sources in the special services, reported that the Ukrainian Defense Forces had attacked military facilities in Belgorod, Russia. They clarified that this was a response to Russian attacks on Ukraine. "These are joint measures that resulted from the barbaric attack on Dnipro, Kharkiv, Odesa and the killing of civilians. More is coming," the statement reads. At the same time, all the damage to civilian infrastructure and fires in Belgorod were caused by unprofessional actions of the Russian air defense, as well as deliberate and planned provocations.

Photo: Belgorod Region Governor Gladkov

Expert opinions

According to Bloomberg experts, the strikes on the ports of the temporarily occupied Crimea forced Russia to relocate its Black Sea Fleet ships away from the danger. The outlet suggests that the attacks have increased pressure on Russian defense on the peninsula, but they are likely to have a limited impact on the development of hostilities.

"Russia hasn’t commented on the location of its Black Sea fleet, though satellite images indicated vessels likely moved from Sevastopol following the strike on the headquarters," the report said.

Estonian intelligence chief Ants Kiviselg also commented on the Ukrainian attack on the Russian ship Novocherkassk and said that the attack would increase pressure on Russia.

"Of course, this attack will increase the pressure on the Russian Federation to move its units as far away from the Crimean peninsula as possible. They also cannot use the ports in Crimea, which are suitable and efficient in terms of their receiving capacity, which work quickly," explained Kiviselg.

According to Oleh Katkov, editor-in-chief of Defence Express, Russia can produce large amphibious assault ships of the updated design, which cost over $300 million per unit. However, their production takes a long time, and Russia will not be able to recover its losses until 2035-2036.

"Considering that this is the third large amphibious assault ship destroyed by the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the Black and Azov Seas, the next two will be delivered to the customer no earlier than 2035-2036. This is the timeframe for restoring the loss of the Novocherkassk large amphibious assault ship that was destroyed in Feodosia," the military expert summarized.

Meanwhile, ISW in its report talks about the latest strike of Ukrainian drones on the territory of Russia, noting that they hit most of the intended targets. It noted that Ukrainian forces conducted a large series of strikes on targets in Russia on the night of December 29-30. Ukrainian security sources told Western and Ukrainian media that on the night of December 29-30, Ukrainian forces launched over 70 drones at Russian military infrastructure and defense facilities near Moscow, Belgorod, Tula, Tver, and Bryansk.

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