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Ukraine updates: Fighters hit Russian ship, port in Crimea

Published December 26, 2023last updated December 27, 2023

Ukraine's air force said it destroyed the Russian "Novocherkassk" landing ship in a Crimean port, while Russian officials said it was damaged and claimed to have shot down two Ukrainian fighter jets. DW has the latest.

Archive image of the Russian large landing navy ship "Novocherkassk," in waters off Crimea, from 2019.
The Russian large landing ship "Novocherkassk" was damaged in the airstrike, both sides saidImage: Ulf Mauder/dpa/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

A Ukrainian air force strike on the Crimean port of Feodosia damaged a large Russian landing ship and killed one person, Moscow said on Tuesday, after Ukraine's air force said the Novocherkassk vessel was destroyed in the strike. 

Ukrainian jets hit the Novocherkassk with missiles, with the Russian-installed governor of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, saying that one person was killed and two were injured in the attack. 

Russian news agency Interfax cited the defense ministry as saying that two Ukrainian jets were destroyed by anti-aircraft fire in the overnight raid.

Ukraine's air force had not said whether it sustained any losses in the attack. 

Meanwhile, Ukraine's parliament announced plans to change the age from which people can be eligible for conscription from 27 to 25, as Kyiv's government and military consider an expanded mobilization.

Here's a look at the latest developments in Russia's war in Ukraine on Tuesday, December 26.

Skip next section Turkey's parliamentary commission approves Sweden's NATO accession
December 27, 2023

Turkey's parliamentary commission approves Sweden's NATO accession

The foreign affairs commission at Turkey's parliament approved on Tuesday Sweden's accession into the NATO military alliance, after 19 months of delays where Turkey pressured Stockholm for security-related concessions.

The commission is backed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling AK Party. The vote followed four hours of debate, where other topics were also discussed. The decision will need to be voted on in the parliament general assembly, where the AK Party also has a ruling majority.

A vote could be held within weeks, paving the way for Sweden's NATO accession.

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom welcomed the move in a statement, saying Stockholm looked forward to joining NATO.

Both Sweden and Finland abandoned their neutral stance after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, submitting a joint bid to become NATO members. While Finland was admitted, Sweden's road was blocked by Ankara, which required security concessions it said aimed to combat terrorism.

Turkey’s Erdogan backs Sweden’s NATO bid

Skip next section Ukraine says Russia train station shelling kills policeman
December 26, 2023

Ukraine says Russia train station shelling kills policeman

Russian forces attacked a railway station in the Southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, killing one policeman and injuring four people, Ukraine's Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said.

The shelling occurred as a train was set to evacuate residents, with some 140 civilians at the station, Klymenko added on the messaging platform Telegram.

"Thanks to the clear actions of the police, everyone was successfully taken to safe places," Klymenko said. "Two more police officers are in the hospital with shrapnel wounds."

Kherson has been under Russian control since the early days of the February 2022 invasion. Ukrainian forces retook it more than a year ago, but it's been the target of frequent Russian attacks since.


Skip next section Ukraine acknowledges retreating outside Maryinka
December 26, 2023

Ukraine acknowledges retreating outside Maryinka

Ukraine's commander-in-chief said on Tuesday that Ukrainian troops had retreated to the outskirts of the eastern city of Marinka, after Russia claimed it fully controlled it.

"We have now moved to the outskirts of Marinka, and in some places already beyond the boundaries of the settlement," Valeriy Zaluzhny told reporters at a briefing in Kyiv.

On Sunday, Russia claimed that its forces gained full control of the city, whereas Ukraine denied the claim.

"Our assault units (...) have today completely liberated the settlement of Marinka," Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a televised meeting.

Putin said that controlling the town would give Russian troops the chance to move enemy combat units away from Donetsk.

"Our troops [now] have the opportunity to reach a wider operational area," he said in a video.

Skip next section Zelenskyy thanks air force for ship strike
December 26, 2023

Zelenskyy thanks air force for ship strike

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the country's air force for the attack on occupied Crimea that Kyiv claims destroyed a Russian warship.

"I am grateful to our Air Force for the impressive replenishment of the Russian underwater Black Sea fleet with another vessel. The occupiers will not have a single peaceful place in Ukraine," he wrote on the Telegram social media site on Tuesday, implying the ship had been sunk. 

So far, Russian officials have only acknowledged the vessel taking damage. 

But unverified images purporting to show the overnight airstrike showed a large explosion at the scene which Ukrainian officials said on Tuesday they believed to be a munitions explosion on board. 

"We can see how powerful the explosion was, what the detonation was like. After that, it’s very hard for a ship to survive, because this was not a rocket, this is the detonation of munitions," Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat told Radio Free Europe. 

First photos from the scene released by Russian news agency TASS gave no indication of the extent of damage to the ship, showing the port from the wrong angle and seemingly from behind security cordons, quite far from the scene. Smoke could be seen hovering over the area, though.

A view of a sea port in the town of Feodosiya. Sergei Aksyonov, head of the Republic of Crimea, reports an attack by the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the area of Feodosiya on the night of December 26; the attack triggered a fire in the port of Feodosiya; the port is cordoned off, specialized services operate in the area.
First images published on Russian media, from behind a security cordon, offered no clue as to the fate of the shipImage: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via picture alliance
Skip next section Russia reports 1 dead in Crimea port attack, only says ship damaged
December 26, 2023

Russia reports 1 dead in Crimea port attack, only says ship damaged

Russian officials' accounts of the overnight airstrike on the port of Feodosia in occupied Crimea differed somewhat from the Ukrainian side. 

Rather than saying that the Novocherkassk large landing was destroyed in the attack, Russian news agency Interfax cited the defense ministry as saying it was damaged. 

The defense ministry also claimed that anti-aircraft fire destroyed two Ukrainian fighter jets in the raid, while Ukraine's air force had made no mention of losses. 

Interfax later reported that Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had briefed President Vladimir Putin about the attack.

Meanwhile, Russian-installed officials in Feodosia reported one death and comparatively few losses on the ground. 

"Sadly, one person was killed and two others were wounded in an enemy attack on Feodosia," the Russian-installed governor of Crimea Sergei Aksyonov said on Telegram. He added that six buildings had been damaged and their residents evacuated.

Skip next section Ukraine destroys Russian fleet ship near Crimea
December 26, 2023

Ukraine destroys Russian fleet ship near Crimea

Ukraine's air force said in a Telegram post it had destroyed a Russian fleet ship in the Black Sea near Crimea suspected of carrying drones early on Tuesday.

Ukrainian air force commander Mykola Oleshchuk said on Telegram that the amphibious landing ship "Novocherkassk" had been sunk. He posted a social media video of a huge explosion in the harbor.

"People say that it transported Shaheds," a Telegram post by the air force said, referring to Iranian explosive drones used regularly by Russia against Ukraine.

Sergei Aksyonov, the Kremlin-backed head of Crimea said on Telegram, "An enemy attack was carried out in the area of Feodosia. The port area is cordoned off."

"As of now, the detonation has stopped and the fire has been localized. All relevant services are on site. Residents of several houses will be evacuated," he added. 

Why has Ukraine's counteroffensive stalled?

Skip next section Blasts heard over Crimean town, report Russian media
December 26, 2023

Blasts heard over Crimean town, report Russian media

Loud explosions were reported early Tuesday from the Crimean town of Feodosia on the Black Sea coast, Russian news outlets on the Telegram messaging service reported.

They posted footage on Telegram showing explosions and fires over a port area.

The reports could not be independently verified.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, in a move that has been internationally condemned.

Skip next section Ukraine plans to lower mobilization age to 25
December 26, 2023

Ukraine plans to lower mobilization age to 25

Ukraine plans to lower the age of those who can be mobilized for combat duty to 25 from 27, said a text posted on the website of Ukraine's parliament on Monday.

An explanatory note signed by Defense Minister Rustem Umerov added key provisions of the draft law, saying they included the "change of conscription age from 27 to 25 years."

In his end-of-year news conference on December 19, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the military had proposed mobilizing 450,000-500,000 more Ukrainians, but that it was a "highly sensitive" issue that the military and government would discuss before the proposal was sent to parliament. 

Zelenskyy said he wanted to hear more arguments for mobilizing additional people.

Ukraine's troop numbers are not known, but some estimates say the country has around 1 million people in the forces. 

Skip next section Zelenskyy praises air force for shooting down Russian jets
December 26, 2023

Zelenskyy praises air force for shooting down Russian jets

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised his country's air force and air defense units for shooting down Russian fighter jets .

"In just one evening yesterday, our warriors shot down almost 30 "Shahed" drones, a few missiles, and two military aircraft. Five in a week. I am grateful to everyone who ensured such a powerful result," Zelenskyy said in a post shared on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

He also warned that Ukrainian air defenses would continue to grow stronger in future once the F-16 fighter jets and other additional systems promised by allies arrived.

On Christmas Eve, Kyiv reported the shooting down of two Russian Sukhoi Su-34 and Su-30CM fighter jets in the Donetsk region and over the Black Sea.

tg/sri (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)