The Russian military said in a daily briefing on Wednesday that Ukraine’s final remaining major warship has been destroyed. While the claim could not immediately be verified, with the government in Kyiv, Ukraine, yet to comment on the matter, the news would be a welcome victory for Russian forces as the country prepares to test its newly-modernized nuclear battlecruiser, the Admiral Nakhimov.
According to a statement issued on Telegram by the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Yuri Olefyrenko warship was destroyed on May 29 as part of a high-precision strike in the southern Ukrainian port of Odesa.
“On May 29, as a result of an attack by a high-precision weapon of the Russian Air Force on the place where warships were parked in the port of Odessa, the last combat ship of the Ukrainian Navy, ‘Yuriy Olefyrenko’, was destroyed,” the statement reads.
The Ukrainian Navy did not respond to a request for comment from the AFP news agency, which reported the news on Wednesday morning.
On Monday, the Ukrainian military said that Russian forces had caused a fire at the port of Odesa as a result of heavy air strikes. The Russian bombardment of the port reportedly caused serious damage to infrastructure, which is still being examined by the Ukrainian military’s southern command. The port of Odesa is not only an important naval base for the Ukrainian forces, but is also an essential grain export hub.
More On the Yuri Olefyrenko
The Yuri Olefyrenko was first commissioned in 1971, and the midsize landing ship was stationed in the Donuzlav Southern Naval Base until the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014. The landing vessel was then moved to Ochakiv and was deployed by the Ukrainian Navy following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The ship hit headlines in April 2022 when Russian media claimed to have captured the ship at the port of Berdyansk. Reports of the ship’s capture ultimately appeared to be untrue, however, as it was seen in June of that same year under Ukrainian control close to Ochakiv. Russian forces actively engaged the ship at the time, though it was believed to have survived the attacks.
If Russia’s latest claim is true, it could prove a substantial loss for Ukraine’s naval forces.
Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.