Russia’s Defense Ministry said earlier on August 4 that its forces had repelled two Ukrainian naval drone attacks on the Novorossiisk base, while Krasnodar regional Governor Veniamin Kondratyev told the RIA Novosti news agency that no casualties or damage were reported from the attacks.
But SBU sources shared a video with RFE/RL purportedly showing the Russian landing ship Olenegorsky Gornyak from the perspective of a camera mounted on a naval drone that ceases its video feed at the moment of the alleged impact. The sources said some 100 crew were on board the ship.
“The special operation was carried out together with the navy,” one of the sources told RFE/RL.
“As a result, the Olenegorsky Gornyak incurred a large hole and is currently unable to perform its combat tasks. Therefore, all the Russians’ statements about the ‘repulsed attack’ are fake,” the source said.
The claim could not be independently verified.
Some posts on social media — which could not be verified — showed a ship reported to be the Olenegorsky Gornyak listing severely while being towed.
The attack has reportedly prompted a temporary halting of ship movements in Novorossiisk, one of Russia’s major commercial ports.
The Caspian Pipeline Consortium that operates an oil terminal in Novorossiisk said the port authorities have temporarily halted all ship movement, although installations were not damaged and oil loading continued.
The Defense Ministry also said that it had shot down 13 drones over Crimea but that no damage or casualties were reported.
However, social media posts said that an oil depot in the port of Feodosyia caught fire and triggered some explosions.
Following the Novorossiisk and Crimea drone attacks, an air-raid alert was declared for the entire territory of Ukraine around noon.
Attacks in and around the Black Sea have increased since Russia refused to extend a Turkish- and UN-sponsored deal that allowed the shipping of Ukrainian grain by sea.
Russia earlier in the week attacked Izmayil, one of the two Danube ports used by Ukraine to export grain. Izmayil is located just 15 kilometers from the Romanian port of Tulcea.
British intelligence said on August 4 that Russia appears to prefer striking targets close to NATO territory with Iranian-made drones rathar than cruise missiles to avoid the risk of military confrontation with the alliance.
“There is a realistic possibility that Russia is using OWA UAVs (drones) to strike this area in the belief they are less likely to risk escalation than cruise missiles: Russia likely considers them as acceptably accurate, and they have much smaller warheads than cruise missiles,” the British Ministry of Defense said in its daily intelligence report.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said “very cruel” fighting was underway on the battlefields in the east.
“The occupiers are trying to stop our guys with all their might. The attacks are very cruel,” Zelenskiy said, adding that “it is hard everywhere. But whatever the enemy does, it is the Ukrainian force that dominates.”
The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces on August 4 recorded about 40 battles at the front over the past day, with Ukrainian forces continuing their offensive in the south.
Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of Donetsk, said on August 4 that Russian shelling killed two civilians over the past 24 hours in the region.
Serhiy Lysak, the governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, said early on August 4 that two civilians were wounded by intense Russian shelling overnight.
Meanwhile, the bodies of 44 Ukrainian soldiers were returned to Ukraine, the Ministry of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories reported on August 4. The bodies were repatriated from Russia-occupied territories, the ministry said in a statement.
The bodies will be identified and then handed over to relatives for burial, it said. Last month, the ministry announced the return of 62 bodies of Ukrainian soldiers.