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Is the Russian fleet abandoning Crimea? Ukraine claims to have reduced Black Sea cruise missile threat to one ‘loser’ ship | World News

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Russia’s Black Sea fleet has almost abandoned Crimea, leaving just one “loser” warship capable of firing cruise missiles, Ukraine says.

Kyiv’s forces claim to have sunk a third of Russia’s warships in just over two years of war, in a heavy blow to Moscow’s military capability.

Ukraine does not have a traditional navy – its ships were largely captured during the annexation of Crimea – but its fleet of drone boats has been wreaking havoc.

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Ukrainian navy spokesperson Dmytro Pletenchuk told local media that all Russian warships capable of firing cruise missiles have been relocated – “except for one loser who has not fired a single missile yet”.

“There is, of course, some stock of ships remaining, but the most valuable assets are all removed,” he added.

“Our ultimate goal is complete absence of military ships of the so-called Russian Federation in the Azov and Black Sea regions,” he said previously.

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Ukraine drones appear to hit Russian ship

Successful Ukrainian drone and missile strikes have provided a major morale boost for Kyiv at a time when its undermanned and outgunned forces are facing Russian attacks along more than 600 miles of frontline and in places are being pushed back.

Last month, Ukraine said it hit two large landing ships at the Crimean port of Sevastopol in what Grant Shapps, the UK defence secretary, called a “historic moment”.

He added: “In plain English, it means that Putin can no longer exercise safely in the Black Sea, even though the Russian fleet has operated there since 1873.”

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FILE - A Russian military landing ship, which now transports cars and people between Crimea and Taman because the Crimean Bridge connecting Russian mainland and Crimean peninsula over the Kerch Strait is closed, sails not far from Kerch, Crimea, on Monday, July 17, 2023. The Crimean Peninsula's balmy beaches have been vacation spots for Russian czars and has hosted history-shaking meetings of world leaders. And it has been the site of ethnic persecutions, forced deportations and political repres
Image:
A Russian warship in front of the Kerch bridge. Pic: AP

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Meanwhile, a former US commander argues that Ukraine is taking control of the Black Sea and that the siege of Crimea has begun.

Speaking on the Silicon Curtain YouTube channel, retired lieutenant general Ben Hodges spoke about the departure of the Russian fleet from around Crimea.

He said: “Why aren’t they fighting like crazy in the Black Sea to regain control over the water that they’ve lost? Because they can’t.”

He also argued that Ukraine likely has a plan to destroy the Kerch bridge – which links Russia and Crimea – when the time is right.

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