Russia said on Friday that two unmanned Ukrainian naval drones had tried to stage an overnight attack on its Black Sea navy base at Novorossiysk in an incident which two sources told Reuters had seriously damaged a Russian warship.
The attack prompted the civilian port, which handles 2% of the world's oil supply and also exports grain, to temporarily halt all ship movement before resuming normal operations, according to the Caspian Pipeline Consortium which operates an oil terminal there.
Russia's Defense Ministry said in a short statement that the Ukrainian attack had been repelled in the waters outside the base and that the two sea drones had been destroyed. It made no mention of any damage.
But a Ukrainian intelligence source said that the Olenegorsky Gornyak, a Russian Navy landing ship, had suffered a serious breach and could not conduct combat missions following what they said was a joint operation by the Ukrainian Navy and SBU intelligence service.
Separately, a source with knowledge of the port's operations said a large Russian naval vessel had to be towed ashore because it could not move under its own power after being damaged.
The source, who did not name the vessel, said oil and grain loadings were still taking place at the port which resumed normal operations hours after the attack.
Reuters was not able to immediately and independently verify the assertions about damage to the Olenegorsky Gornyak warship.
Unverified video footage published on social media purported to show damage to it, however. In one video, it was seen listing heavily to its port side.
BREAKING:Ukraine has attacked Russia’s biggest port in the northern Caucasus, Novorossiysk, with naval and aerial drones overnight. The Black Sea is becoming smaller and smaller for Russia.pic.twitter.com/0rvLbio1qF— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) August 4, 2023
Andrei Kravchenko, a Novorossiysk city official, said on the Telegram app that the Olenegorsky Gornyak was one of two ships that had "instantly reacted" to fend off the Ukrainian attack.