A Russian tanker with 11 crew members has been hit in a Ukrainian attack in the Black Sea, Russian officials say.

They said the vessel’s engine room was damaged in the overnight strike in the Kerch Strait. No-one was hurt.

Ukraine has not publicly commented. But a Ukrainian security service source told the BBC a sea drone had been used.

Saturday’s attack is the second in as many days involving such weapons. Russia, however, has not admitted any damage during Friday’s attack.

Naval drones, or sea drones, are small, unmanned vessels which operate on or below the water’s surface. Research by BBC Verify suggests Ukraine has carried out several attacks with sea drones.

 

The Kerch Strait connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, separating Crimea – Ukraine’s peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014 – and Russia’s Taman peninsula.

The Ukrainian security service source told the BBC Saturday’s operation was also conducted jointly with the Ukrainian navy and that 450kg of TNT explosive had been used.

The tanker was loaded with fuel, they said so the “fireworks” were visible from afar.

Russia’s maritime transport agency says the Sig tanker was located 17 miles (27km) south of the Crimean Bridge.

Russia’s state-run Tass news agency quoted an official from the country’s regional Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) as saying that two tugs had already arrived at the scene of the attack – just to the south of the Kerch Strait.

“The engine room was damaged. Not much, but it was damaged,” the official said.

Russia’s maritime transport agency RosMorRechFlot later said the vessel had a hole “in the area of [the] engine room near the waterline from the starboard side, presumably as a result of an attack by a sea drone”.

“The ship is afloat,” it added.

Russian state-run media also reported that lights on the Crimean Bridge – further north – were turned off and all traffic halted amid warnings of an imminent attack.

On Saturday, Ukraine said it had designated six Russian black sea ports as being in “war risk” areas, indicating that it could be preparing further attacks on Moscow’s territory.

Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, warned that Kyiv was preparing to the expand the “scale” and “range of combat operations” in Russia.

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