Russia May Suffer ‘Reverberating Impacts’ After Shipyard Strike: ISW

Ukraine’s missile attack on the Russian Black Sea Fleet could have “reverberating impacts” on Moscow’s military, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

The Ukrainian Armed Forces announced Wednesday that it had successfully carried out an overnight airstrike on Russian navy ships docked at the Crimean port of Sevastopol. According to Kyiv military intelligence spokesperson Andriy Yusov, who spoke with Ukrainian news outlets, Russia’s ship repair facility, the S. Ordzhonikidze, was struck in the attack, as well as a landing ship and submarine.

Photos of the strike circulated on Russian Telegram channels Wednesday, showing the side of Moscow’s landing ship damaged in the attack. The Russian Defense Ministry claimed to have intercepted seven of the 10 Ukrainian cruise missiles that were launched at the port, but acknowledge in a post to Telegram that two ships that were under repair had been hit.

Russian May Suffer 'Reverberating Impacts' After Strike
Russia’s Black Sea Fleet warships take part in the Navy Day celebrations in the port city of Novorossiysk on July 30, 2023. Russia’s military may face long-term setbacks after a Ukrainian missile strike damaged parts of the fleet docked at the Crimean port of Sevastopol.STRINGER/AFP via Getty

“The apparent destruction of the two vessels will likely render the dry dock inoperable until Russian forces can clear the debris, which may take a significant amount of time,” the ISW wrote in its latest assessment on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The extent of the damage to Sevmorzavod’s repair facilities beyond the dry dock is unclear, and any damage to one of the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s main repair facilities in occupied Crimea will likely have reverberating impacts in the event of further Ukrainian strikes on Russian naval assets,” added the U.S.-based think tank.

Russia closed the Kerch Strait Bridge that links the Crimean Peninsula to the rest of the country on Wednesday in response to the attack, and Moscow-appointed officials said the fire that broke out at the S. Ordzhonikidze ship repair plant injured at least 24 people. The strategic bridge has been struck twice before by Ukraine, in October and July.

Retired Ukrainian naval captain Andriy Ryzhenko told Newsweek on Wednesday that he thought Ukraine’s attack was “a really impressive strike,” adding that Moscow’s military likely “did not expect such a powerful” attack from Kyiv.

“It’s really demoralizing for the Russian military, and also reducing their combat potential,” Ryzhenko said.

The ISW said that while Russian “ultranationalists” were publicly outraged by the airstrike, the Kremlin largely chose not to address the topic.

It is unclear which weapons Kyiv used to strike Sevastopol, but the think tank reported calls from prominent Kremlin propagandist Vladimir Solovyov for Russia to retaliate against Western facilities that allegedly produced the missiles used by Ukraine in the attack.

ISW wrote, however, that such “escalation with the West is boilerplate rhetoric for [Solovyov’s] domestic audience but is not reflective of any actual Kremlin position on the matter.”

Newsweek reached out to the Russian Ministry of Defense for comment via email on Wednesday night.

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