A Russian ship caught fire after it was struck in the Black Sea and was forced to return to port, a Ukrainian official claimed on Friday.
Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesman for the Kyiv-backed Odesa Regional Military Administration, told news outlets that “as a result of the actions of our military sailors, the logistics ship Vsevolod Bobrov, one of the newest in the Russian fleet, [caught fire]. They say that it is [being towed] to Sevastopol.”
Ukraine said the logistics ship was struck near Snake Island, a small but strategic outpost close to Ukraine’s sea border with Romania. The Epoch Times could not immediately verify the claims, and Russia has not issued a statement on the alleged incident.
In April, the Russian naval ship Moskva was destroyed in the Black Sea, with Ukrainian officials claiming responsibility. Moscow said that it was instead caused by an ammunition fire.
It comes as Ukrainian military forces in the eastern part of the country have destroyed a “significant” amount of Russian tanks and other armored vehicles during an attempt to cross a river, according to the UK Ministry of Defense in an operational update posted on Friday.
“Images indicate that during the crossing of the Siverskyi Donets river west of Severodonetsk, Russia lost significant armored maneuver elements of at least one Battalion Tactical Group as well as the deployed pontoon bridging equipment,” the Ministry wrote in a Twitter post.
Ukrainian officials had released photos that allegedly showed more than two-dozen burned Russian tanks and other armored vehicles near the Siverskyi Donets River in eastern Ukraine.
“Conducting river crossings in a contested environment is a highly risky maneuver and speaks to the pressure the Russian commanders are under to make progress in their operations in eastern Ukraine,” the UK Ministry of Defense also wrote Friday.
However, it added, “Russian forces have failed to make any significant advances despite concentrating forces in this area after withdrawing and redeploying units from the Kyiv and Chernihiv Oblasts.”
It comes as officials in Sweden and Finland have issued public comments suggesting the two nations would be willing to join NATO, drawing warnings from Moscow. Joining the 30-nation Western military alliance would end the neutrality the two states maintained throughout the Cold War and further the expansion of NATO that Putin said his invasion of Ukraine aimed to prevent.
While NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg previously said NATO would welcome their entry into the military alliance, member state Turkey indicated that it would not support their bid.
“We are following developments concerning Sweden and Finland, but we are not of a favorable opinion,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters on Friday.
Reuters contributed to this report.