Ukraine Says It Destroyed Another Ship As Rumors Swirl Of Russian Warship On Fire

Ukrainian officials claim that another high-profile Russian warship has fallen prey to Ukrainian anti-ship missiles in the Black Sea.

byThomas Newdick|
Russian warship Admiral Makarov


Ukrainian officials claim that the Russian Navy’s Admiral Grigorovich class frigate Admiral Makarov, one of the most advanced in its fleet, has become the latest victim of Ukrainian anti-ship missiles while operating in the Black Sea. The Ukrainian claims, so far unconfirmed, suggest the warship was sailing near Snake Island, around 20 miles off the Ukrainian coast, when it came under attack and burst into flames. The reported location is close to where a pair of Russian Navy Raptor class patrol boats were claimed to be destroyed by Ukrainian drones earlier this week.

Citing Russian sources, Anton Gerashchenko, an official advisor to the Ukrainian president, reported on his Telegram page that the Admiral Makarov had been hit by a Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missile. This is the same weapon that Ukrainian military and U.S. defense officials said sank the Russian Navy’s Project 1164 Slava class cruiser Moskva, the highest-profile naval casualty of the war so far, on April 14. Moscow said the vessel sank after a fire

The latest Ukrainian claims suggest that the Admiral Makarov is now on fire. While unverified imagery has begun to appear on social media, purporting to show the frigate ablaze, there are some serious questions about its authenticity:

The warship seen in the above footage does appear to look broadly like an Admiral Grigorovich class, or at least another member of the Krivak class from which it was derived. Nonetheless, it has been met with skepticism, with suggestions that it may be a doctored or composite video. This would not be the first time that falsified video has been used in support of Ukrainian claims in the conflict.

There has been a previous example of footage taken from a combat flight simulation game being presented as genuine air combat video and then being used by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense. There are now suggestions that computer-generated imagery may have been used to produce the video claiming to show the burning warship, too.

Meanwhile, there are suggestions that the area in the Black Sea in question has today also been the subject of some unusual aerial surveillance activity, including by a U.K. Royal Air Force RC-135W Rivet Joint. This intelligence-gatherer appears to have been operating closer to the coast than is typical. RQ-4 Global Hawk intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance drones, by contrast, are regularly seen over these waters.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces themselves are also yet to comment directly on the alleged incident, although earlier today the Facebook page of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine added a single, unidentified vessel to its list of Russian equipment destroyed since the campaign began. The latest tally sees the number of destroyed boats and cutters increase from 10 to 11. It should be recalled, however, that the armed forces have previously made claims of having sunk Russian warships without providing any evidence.

Other Ukrainian media outlets have claimed that Russian forces sent helicopters and rescue vessels to pick up the crew of the ship, which remains unconfirmed. Helicopter activity in the Black Sea region is, by itself, nothing unusual.

Meanwhile, there has been a partial denial of the Ukrainian claims from the Kremlin. “We do not have such information,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, according to RIA Novosti.

Location of Snake Island in the Black Sea. Google Earth

The Admiral Makarov is one of two Admiral Grigorovich class frigates understood to be active in the Black Sea as of late, the other being the Admiral Essen. Previous videos appeared to show that at least one of the ships was involved in shelling the strategic Black Sea port city of Odesa last month.

Formally known as the Project 11356, the Admiral Grigorovich class frigates are capable of strike, anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and anti-air warfare missions. The ships feature an eight-cell vertical launch system for Kalibr land-attack and anti-ship cruise missiles, as well as two 12-cell launchers for Shtil-1 medium-range surface-to-air missiles. In terms of close-in defense, each ship also has a pair of Kashtan combined gun/missile system for close-in defense.

Video thumbnail

The fact that the Ukrainian Armed Forces are clearly making use of TB2 drones in the vicinity of Snake Island could be significant in this latest episode. So far, as well as the claims of the two Russian patrol craft earlier this week, the armed drones seem to have inflicted a steady toll on Russian ground-based air defense systems and other materiel actually on the island. There were also unconfirmed reports that a TB2 might have been involved in the sinking of the Moskva in some way, such as tracking the ship or even providing targeting information.

It is also noteworthy that the claimed attack on the Admiral Makarov comes a day after U.S. defense officials confirmed that the Pentagon shared intelligence with Ukraine about the location of the Moskva prior to its sinking. A U.S. official said that Ukraine alone decided to target and sink the warship.

We will continue to update this post as more information comes available.

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