Russia delivered hammer blow as Ukraine wipes out naval vessel in Snake Island ambush

Russian navy vessel appears to be struck by missile

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The Ukrainian Navy released footage of a spectacular strike on the Russian rescue tug Spasatel Vatsily Bekh earlier today. The tug boat was in the midst of transporting weapons and soldiers of the Black Sea Fleet to Snake Island when the ambush took place. Ukraine’s armed forces strategic communications directorate said the Spasatel Vatsily Bekh was hit with two Harpoon missiles.

Video of the attack shows an aerial view of the tug vessel as recorded by a Bayraktar TB2 drone. 

The drone did not fire the missile but captured the moment that two missiles approach the Russian Black Sea navy tug boat.

Footage shows two missiles slamming into a vessel believed to be 19 miles east of Snake Island, causing it to erupt in a fireball.

Ukraine’s Naval Command said the tug boat had a TOR anti-air missile system on board but this had failed to stop the strike.

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The use of Harpoon missiles marks the first time that Ukraine has struck a Russian vessel with this type of Western-supplied anti-ship rocket.

The US has sent Harpoon missiles to Ukraine while the UK and Denmark have said they were considering sending the anti-ship ballistics.

UA Weapons, which tracks Ukrainian military operations online, posted: “Big news from the Black Sea- the Ukrainian Navy claims to have destroyed the Russian ‘Vasily Bekh’ rescue vessel, as it traveled to the famous Snake Island; it reportedly had a Tor-M2KM SAM system on board.

“The strike was filmed by a TB-2 drone; 2 munitions are used.”

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Governor of Odesa, Maksym Marchenko, backed up the claim about a successful Ukrainian attack on a Russian ship.

He posted on Telegram: “This morning in the Black Sea, the tugboat of the Black Sea Fleet ‘Vasily Bekh’ was hit by missiles while transporting ammunition, weapons, personnel and SAM ‘TOR’ to Snake Island. Congratulations to the team of the cruiser ‘Moscow’!”

However, the Russian Navy has so far remained silent on the status of the ship while the footage remains unverified. 

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The Vasiliy Bekh had served in the Russian Black Sea Fleet since 2017.

Snake Island has become a key battleground as well as a propaganda symbol in the war after the outpost was infamously captured by the Russian Navy early in the conflict.

The attack follows the sinking of the Moskva last month which Russia initially claimed was caused by an ammunition explosion brought on by a storm.

This comes as the UK defence chief claimed that Russia has already “strategically lost” the war in Ukraine and is now a “more diminished power”.

The head of the UK’s armed forces Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said today that Russia was suffering heavy losses and running out of troops and advanced missiles.

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