Ukraine claimed it has destroyed a Russian landing ship, Orsk, in the Sea of Asov near the port city of Berdyansk.
The country’s navy released photos and video of fire and thick smoke coming from the port area.
“The Orsk large landing ship of the Russian occupiers was destroyed near the port of Berdyansk,” the Ukrainian Navy said in a Facebook post on Thursday, without providing further details.
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Accompanying the post was a video purportedly showing the port in flames where a small explosion could be seen.
It was not clear whether there were any casualties. Russia did not immediately comment on the claim.
It is reported that one #Russian ship sank in occupied #Berdyansk, and two others are smoking heavily and trying to escape. A warehouse with ammunition and fuel was destroyed. pic.twitter.com/rixPh4MpjT— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) March 24, 2022
Local media reports stated one Russian ship had sunk and two others were on fire after an ammunition depot and a fuel warehouse were hit.
The state-run Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform reported two powerful explosions at 6.40am local time on Thursday, saying the blasts were heard throughout the city.
Russian troops captured the port on 27 February and the Orsk, classified as an alligator-class landing ship by Nato, had been docked there since Monday, the Russian armed forces news outlets Zvezda said earlier this week.
“It is hard to overestimate the possibilities of using this port,” Zvezda reported at the time, adding that the southern flank of Russia’s “special operation” – Moscow’s term for the invasion – would be able to funnel more equipment and ammunition.
Zvezda said 10 ships were participating in the operation, with each carrying up to 20 tanks or 40 armoured personnel carriers.
The Orsk was the first Russian warship to enter Berdyansk, which is about 80km (50 miles) west along the coast from the besieged city of Mariupol, which has suffered from heavy shelling.
If the Orsk is confirmed to have been hit then it be another huge blow to Russian troops who have suffered heavy losses in the conflict. Nato estimated that between 7,000 to 15,000 soldiers have been killed, including at least six generals although Moscow has only acknowledged one.