KIEV: Ukraine said one of its naval vessels came under artillery attack from the shore yesterday, in what pro-Russian rebels claimed as the first sea victory of their separatist war.
“A Ukrainian border patrol cutter in the Azov Sea was attacked from the shore today. Artillery was used. A rescue operation is under way,” Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told Reuters.
A Ukrainian military officer who asked not to be named said: “It appears that a ship has been damaged, I do not know who exactly fired on it and with what.”
No further details were available on the vessel and the number of crew on board.
“The militia have dealt the enemy their first naval defeat,” Igor Strelkov, a separatist military commander who stepped down in mid-August, said on the social media network VKontakte.
Photographs and videos posted on Strelkov’s page showed footage shot from the shore looking out to sea, where thick black smoke was visible on the horizon. It was not possible to confirm their authenticity. The separatists, who want to break away from Ukraine and join Russia, have been fighting Ukrainian government forces since April in a conflict that has killed 2,600 people.