Ukraine attacks Russian ship – as '18 drones shot down' over port city

By Isaac M March 5, 2024

Ukraine said it has damaged one of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet patrol ships and 18 drones from Moscow were shot down over Odesa.

Kyiv’s military intelligence (GUR) said on Telegram its special unit “Group 13” attacked Russia’s Sergey Kotov near the Kerch Strait in Crimea.

They added “a strike by Magura V5 maritime drones” damaged the ship’s “stern, starboard and port sides”.

Follow latest: Leaked recording a ‘wake-up call’

Andriy Yermak, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, also said on Telegram after the attack: “The Russian Black Sea Fleet is a symbol of occupation. It cannot be in the Ukrainian Crimea.”

Last month, the GUR claimed Ukraine’s “Group 13” destroyed the Russian warship Caesar Kunikov with naval drones off the coast of Crimea.

Ukraine’s air force also said on Tuesday their air defence systems shot down 18 Russian attack drones fired over Odesa, after 22 were launched by Moscow.

A view of a damaged area at the site of a Russian drone attack in a location given as Odesa, Ukraine.
Pic: Defence Forces Southern Ukraine/Reuters
Ukraine said 22 Russian drones were launched over Odesa. Pic: Defence Forces Southern Ukraine/Reuters

A view of a damaged area at the site of a Russian drone attack in Odesa.
Pic:Defence Forces Southern Ukraine/Reuters
Kyiv’s air force said their air defence systems managed to shoot down 18 drones. Pic: Defence Forces Southern Ukraine/Reuters

Russia condemns EU ambassador ‘performances’

It comes as Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, accused ambassadors of interfering in the country’s internal affairs.

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In an interview with state television anchor Vladimir Solovyov, the spokeswoman was asked about foreign minister Sergei Lavrov’s claims that EU ambassadors refused to meet with him on 4 March.

She said: “The question indeed arises among everyone: what are they doing, and why, how do they interpret their conduct on the territory of our country if they do not perform their most important function?”

Ms Zakharova also claimed some foreign diplomats were seen at Alexei Navalny’s funeral, and said it showed Western ambassadors in Moscow were meddling in Russia’s affairs and putting on “performances”.

It also comes after Germany shot down allegations that it is preparing for a war with Russia after a recording of military officials was leaked online.

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Absurdly infamous Russian propaganda’

The 38-minute recording was posted online by Margarita Simonyan, the chief editor of state-funded broadcaster RT, and purportedly revealed a top German officer discussing secret details about British troops in Ukraine.

While German officials did not dispute the authenticity of the recording, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Monday: “It is absolutely clear that such claims that this conversation would prove, that Germany is preparing a war against Russia, that this is absurdly infamous Russian propaganda.”

On Tuesday morning, German defence minister Boris Pistorius insisted the country’s communications were not compromised, and said Russia obtained access to the WebEx call via a participant dialing in with a non-secure line.

He said Russia is trying to drive division in Germany with the leak, and added allies have told him their trust in Germany remains “unbroken”.

Scholz in another storm after German phone call leak

Boris Pistorius, the German defence minister, was putting in a determined effort to limit the damage and restore confidence in his country.

Germany is Europe’s richest country, after all – a bulwark of the European Union and NATO. And yet, he knows that, right now, allies worry that it’s not a reliable partner.

Despite spending a huge amount of money on supporting Ukraine, Germany has somehow ended up with a reputation for being cautious and unsure.

If anything, that’s probably down to the character of the Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, who is still dithering over his decision about whether to supply Taurus missiles to Ukraine.

That’s the background. Then came this leak of information, which Pistorius blames on an “information war” being waged by Russia.

But, in fact, it turns out that a very senior German Air Force leader, while visiting an air show in Singapore, dialled into a secure channel using insecure means, and because of that the call got recorded. It’s not exactly James Bond stuff.

Pistorius says the communications system “is not compromised” and said the leak was instead down to “an individual error” but that he won’t be pushed into firing anyone “by Putin’s games”. But that’s not really the problem.

Instead, this leak has emboldened Russia to spread division among allies and, perhaps, to muddle Scholz’s thinking even more. It’s worried allies, who were already quietly worried about leaks within German intelligence. And it’s damaged political relationships within and without his country.

Scholz’s popularity has plummeted in recent months, and his ruling coalition is under strain. What he needed was a period of calm, focused leadership. Instead, he’s in another storm.

‘German journalists will leave Russia’

After the leak surfaced on Monday, Russia summoned Germany’s ambassador to the foreign ministry to demand clarification over the leak and assistance given to Ukraine to strike Russian targets.

Alexander Graf Lambsdorff was also criticised by Moscow over claims Russian journalists were being restricted from reporting in Germany.

In her state television interview, Ms Zakharova said: “If they touch Russian correspondents and bring their plans to conclusion, German journalists will leave Russia.”


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