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14 Mar, 2024 16:40

NATO-supplied missiles used in attack on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet – bloc chief

Since the conflict began, Ukraine has destroyed multiple Russian naval vessels with the help of Western weaponry
NATO-supplied missiles used in attack on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet – bloc chief

Ukraine has used NATO-supplied missiles to strike Russian Navy vessels in the Black Sea, the bloc's secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, acknowledged on Thursday, adding that he considers the area to be of “great strategic importance.”

Earlier this month, Ukrainian forces struck a Russian Navy ship off the coast of Crimea with the help of several seaborne drones. 

Similar incidents have taken place during the course of the conflict, with Kiev’s biggest hit to date being the Moskva, the former flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, which sank on April 14, 2022. Some of the attacks have involved air-to-surface cruise missiles, with some military experts speculating that British-supplied Storm Shadow missiles could have been used. 

At a press conference on Thursday, Stoltenberg said that “one of the big victories that Ukraine has achieved is actually to be able to push back the Russian Black Sea Fleet and to destroy many other ships,” ensuring an “open corridor from Odessa all the way to the Bosporus.”

He noted that “some of the missiles, some of the systems that have been so critical in opening this corridor have been, of course, provided by NATO Allies.” 

His comments come as Russia’s ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, warned on Wednesday that the situation has reached the point where high-ranking US officials are saying the West needs to help Ukrainians “strike deep in Crimea.” In other words, he said, “the direct involvement of the United States in the conflict has been officially recognized.” 

Antonov noted that the direct participation of Ukraine’s Western backers in the conflict would have the “most unpredictable consequences” for the world.   

The ambassador was responding to a comment made by CIA Director William Burns during a hearing at the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Monday. Burns argued that additional funding would allow Ukraine to conduct more “deep penetration strikes in Crimea,” continue targeting Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, and eventually “regain the offensive initiative.”

Also on Monday, the head of Ukrainian military intelligence (GUR), Kirill Budanov, announced that Kiev’s recent attacks on the peninsula are paving the way for a “serious operation in Crimea.”