Ukraine attacks the Novocherkassk, a Russian warship, in Crimea

Ukraine scored a major success Tuesday when it struck a Russian warship in the port of Crimea, one of the most significant attacks against Moscow’s Black Sea fleet in recent months. But in another setback for their ground campaign, Ukrainian officials acknowledged they had all but withdrawn from the eastern town of Marinka after a months-long battle to defend it.

The two developments underscore the divergent fortunes of the two combatants this winter in a war that has largely settled into a stalemate: Ukraine is racking up naval successes in the Black Sea and Crimea, where it is putting Russia on the defensive , and Russia is pressing its attack. on the battlefields in the east after blunting a Ukrainian counteroffensive.

TO A day after Russia declared it had taken complete control of Marinka, General Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s top military commander, spoke in sober terms of the clash, likening it to the scorched earth battle for Bakhmut, the fallen eastern city in Russian hands in May. . Like Bakhmut, Marinka had limited strategic value, but is now a ruined trophy for Moscow.

“The situation is exactly the same as in Bakhmut,” General Zaluzhny said in a Press conference. “Street after street, block after block, our soldiers were targeted. And the result is what it is.”

Ukrainian forces, he said, had retreated to the outskirts of the city and set up some positions behind it, indicating that the cost of staying and fighting was too high. Every inch of Ukrainian land is vital, General Zaluzhny said, but “the lives of our fighters are more important to us.”

Hours earlier, the Ukrainian Air Force She said which had destroyed the Novocherkassk, a large landing ship, in the Crimean port of Feodosia overnight. This was reported by the Russian Ministry of Defense the state news agency Tass that the vessel had been damaged in an attack using “air-guided missiles,” but did not say whether the vessel had been permanently disabled.

The videos of the attack appeared to have been taken by residents, and they were released of the Ukrainian Air Force showed a huge explosion that produced a large fireball, followed by a giant cloud of smoke and flames rising into the night sky. The footage could not immediately be verified, but Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian-installed governor of Crimea, She said that the attack had started a fire in Feodosia. One person was killed and two others were injured in the assault, he said.

“The fleet in Russia is getting smaller and smaller!” This was written by Mykola Oleshchuk, commander of the Ukrainian Air Force to publish on the Telegram messaging app celebrating the strike. He noted that last year Ukrainian missiles sank the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

The attack on Novocherkassk came on the heels of another boon for Ukrainian forces: The military said it shot down five Russian fighter planes in three days. Analysts said the downing of the bombers – one of the biggest weekly losses for the Russian air force since the war began – could ease pressure on Ukrainian troops operating in some of the hottest spots on the front line.

The Ukrainian military has long argued that the war cannot be won without targeting Russian assets and operations in Crimea, which Moscow illegally annexed in 2014. In recent months, Ukraine has sharply accelerated the pace of attacks on the peninsula , which the Russian military uses as a logistical hub for its control over southern Ukraine – stockpiling fuel, ammunition and other supplies to funnel to battlefields – and as a launching pad for attacks.

The Black Sea Fleet has launched devastating precision cruise missiles at cities and towns deep inside Ukraine. In an effort to reduce the threat, the Ukrainian military has repeatedly targeted the fleet this year, damaging a warship in August and hitting the fleet’s headquarters a month later.

These attacks were significant achievements for a country without any warships of its own, and rare successes in a year marked by failed attempts to break through Russian defensive lines on the battlefield.

The battle for Marinka illustrated a defining characteristic of the Russian invasion that analysts say gives Moscow’s forces a major advantage: a willingness to send waves of troops in ferocious assaults, accepting a staggering number of casualties but counting on more of soldiers and soldiers. ammunition to wear down the enemy.

It’s the same approach Russia has taken in the nearby town of Avdiivka, where it has been attacking for months despite fierce Ukrainian resistance. The Russian attacks come as Ukraine is experiencing declining support from Western allies.

A suburb of Donetsk, Marinka once had a population of 10,000 and streets lined with schools, shops and even a museum. Today there are no civilians left and the place is reduced to rubble.

“Ukrainian forces held Marinka for almost two years while the Russians annihilated her street by street, and then house by house,” General Zaluzhny said Tuesday.

Geolocalized movie shows that Russian forces have been nibbling away at Ukrainian positions over months of battle. Then on Monday Russia said it had taken full control of the city.

Capturing Marinka could allow Russian forces to turn their sights on the nearby cities of Kurakove, Vuhleda and Pokrovsk, bringing them closer to achieving Russia’s goal of capturing the entire Donbas region. General Zaluzhny said Ukrainian troops had “prepared a defensive line outside” Marinka, suggesting his military would try to thwart Russia’s efforts to advance further.

The Ukrainian Air Force said it used cruise missiles in Tuesday’s attack over the Black Sea, which occurred around 2:30 a.m. local time. Russian Ministry of Defense he told Tass that two Ukrainian Su-24 fighter planes involved in the attack on Feodosia had been “destroyed”, a claim the Ukrainian military denied.

While the extent of the damage to the ship was not immediately clear, the attack hit what appeared to be a valuable target.

The 110 meter long Novocherkassk was reportedly capable of carrying up to 10 tanks and several hundred soldiers. Russian news half, in which she reported that she had previously been involved in Russian military operations in Syria. In June 2022, Tass said the ship was part of a group of 12 ships “ready to carry out combat tasks in the Black Sea”.

The Ukrainian military said on Tuesday it suspected the ship was carrying attack drones for use in warfare. Natalia Humeniuk, a representative of the Ukrainian military, said on national television that “it is clear that such a large detonation was not caused only by the fuel or ammunition of the ship itself.”

Andrii Klymenko, the head of the Black Sea Institute for Strategic Studies, agreed. “Judging by the video of the explosion, which was very powerful, it carried explosives: bullets or missiles or, as some say, drones,” he wrote in a text message.

Klymenko noted that the port of Feodosia was near Cape Chauda, ​​which he said Russia has long used as a launch site for attack drones.

Data compiled by the institute shows that the Ukrainian military carried out at least 155 attacks against Crimea and the Russian Black Sea fleet from January to October this year, averaging one every other day.

Amid the intensifying campaign, Russia has moved ships from Sevastopol, the fleet’s home port, to ports further away from Ukrainian land, including Feodosia, which is located on the eastern coast of Crimea. But Tuesday’s attack made clear that those ports were still at risk.

The attack came as Ukraine signaled it was waging a protracted war against Russia. The government on Monday presented a bill in Parliament which proposes lowering the age of people who can be drafted into the military to 25 from 27.

As Ukraine’s military suffers troop shortages to fight Russia’s repeated assaults, the conscription process has come under scrutiny amid reports of erroneous conscription notices and coercive mobilization tactics.

military officers they said In recent days, a large-scale mobilization of up to 500,000 soldiers will be necessary. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that a plan still needs to be drawn up before a decision can be made. Although General Zaluzhny did not specify any figures on Tuesday, he called for the mobilization of more troops to cover Ukrainian losses.