The Ukrainian Navy has claimed it has hit a Russian tugboat with Harpoon missiles on Thursday. Ukrainians say the Vasily Bekh was heading to Snake Island to deliver an anti-aircraft system. Fighting has been going on around the strategically located islet in the Black Sea since the war began.
In a statement, the Ukrainian military wrote that the tugboat had been hit by two missiles. They shared images of the attack, but these have not yet been verified. For now, Russia has not communicated about the tugboat. It is believed to be already the fourteenth Russian naval vessel to sink or be damaged since the start of the invasion.
The Vasily Bekh was a relatively new tugboat. It had been in service since 2017 and was part of Russia’s Black Sea fleet. Possibly the ship helped evacuate crew members of the Moskva, the cruiser that sank in April after a missile attack. At that time, Ukrainian Neptune missiles were used. This time they were the Harpoon variant. These are American-made and were already supplied by Denmark.
Better video, clearly shows the Russian tug being hit by two Ukrainian antiship cruise missiles https://t.co/spvmBlfFzK pic.twitter.com/wJni7UsgNy
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) June 17, 2022
The Ukraine says the tugboat was trying to bring manpower, ammunition, and especially a TOR air defense system to Snake Island. The little island, less than twelve soccer fields in size, is located some 140 kilometers south of Odessa and is in Russian hands. Early in the war, it became a widespread symbol of Ukrainian resistance after a radio exchange between Ukrainian border guards and the crew of the Moskva went viral.
This isn’t the first time Ukraine has struck targets on and around Snake Island. An Ukrainian TB-2 drone destroyed the Russians’ mobile air defense system. Since then Russian troops stationed there have been under fire and cut off from the outside world. Two Russian Raptors attempted to reach the island again for the first time on May 2. The fast patrol boats were blown out of the water by a drone.