Russia has sunk one of its own ships in a bid to block Ukrainian vessels from heading out into the Black Sea, a Ukrainian official says.
Russian ships early Wednesday pulled the anti-submarine vessel Ochakov out of a naval junkyard and sunk it in Donuzlav Lake, near the city of Novoozerne on the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Col. Alexei Mazepa told the Los Angeles Times.
The Soviet-era ship was filled with water at the entrance of the lake, blocking Ukraine’s warships from leaving through a narrow channel, according to the maritime industry news website gCaptain.
Earlier this week, Adm. Alexander Vitko, the commander of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, reportedly visited Ukraine’s South Base.
“He asked me to invite all the officers and suggested that we collectively take up the Russian military allegiance oath and become part of the Black Sea fleet … promising good pay and a bright future,” Capt. Viktor Shmiganovsky told the Los Angeles Times. “He insisted we do that to help protect Ukraine from extremist gangs.”
Vitko left the base “in a rage” after the base commander said, “Comrade admiral, we didn't see any extremist gangs here until you came with your men,” Shmiganovsky added.
Russia leases ports in locations around the Crimean Peninsula, which serve as the headquarters of its Black Sea Fleet.