- Russia faces losing all its ships if it continues to strike Ukraine’s ports, President Zelenskyy said.
- The attacks have killed civilians, but in recent weeks Ukraine has hit back with sea drones.
- Though Russia’s navy is bigger, Ukraine has made some bruising strikes with exploding naval drones.
Russia could find itself without ships by the end of the war if it continues to attack Ukrainian ports, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
“We don’t have as many weapons, but if they continue to shoot, they may be left without vessels by the end of the war,” Zelenskyy told Argentina’s La Nacion newspaper, per CNN’s translation.
Zelenskyy’s comments were published days after Ukrainian exploding sea drones struck a Russian oil tanker and a Russian warship.
While Russia’s conventional naval power dwarfs Ukraine’s, Ukraine has been needling Russia’s fleet with maritime drones, and at the end of July unveiled a fast and powerful new model, with its capabilities quickly demonstrated in a strike on the Kerch Bridge.
Ukraine’s maritime drones are a growing threat to Russia’s fleet, being packed with large amounts of explosives, drone technology expert Stephen Wright told Insider earlier this month.
And defending against them isn’t easy. Putting up defensive floating barriers, as Russia has attempted to do at key ports, can be circumvented by simply blasting through them with more drones, Wright told Insider.
In his comments to La Nacion, Zelenskyy argued that Ukraine has the right to import and export goods through the Black Sea, which is being blockaded by Russia.
“If Russia continues to dominate the Black Sea and block it with firing missiles, then Ukraine will do the same, which is a fair defense of Ukraine’s capabilities,” he said, according to CNN’s translation.
In July, Russia refused to renew a deal brokered with the UN and Turkey to allow a sea corridor for grain to be exported from Ukraine. The UN’s Secretary-General António Guterres condemned Russia’s withdrawal, saying it would end a “lifeline” for global food security.
Since then, Russia has ramped up its attacks on Ukrainian ports, killing some civilians and making one strike just a few hundred yards from the border with Romania, a NATO member.
The Kremlin also declared that any vessel traveling through the Black Sea to Ukraine will be “considered to be involved in the Ukrainian conflict on the side of Kyiv.”
Ukraine made a similar declaration about ships traveling to Russian-controlled ports, and in the interview published Sunday, Zelenskyy vowed to respond to any attacks on Ukraine’s civilian populations.