Cargo ship damaged by Russian mine in Black Sea, Ukraine says

Vyssos in Bosphorus - 25 December
Image caption,The bulk carrier Vyssos was photographed in the Bosphorus days before the attack

By Robert Greenall

BBC News

A Panamanian-flagged cargo ship has been hit by a Russian mine in the Black Sea, Ukrainian officials say.

Two of the ship’s crew were injured in Wednesday’s explosion, which caused the ship to lose speed and control.

Ukraine says the vessel, the Vyssos, had been heading to one of its ports on the Danube river to load grain.

Kyiv has continued to export grain along unilaterally declared maritime corridors after Moscow pulled out of a UN-backed Black Sea grain deal.

Ukrainian authorities have published a photo appearing to show the explosion, which caused a fire on the upper deck.

Reports suggest the captain ran the ship aground to prevent it from sinking.

An operation is under way to try to tow it to port for repairs.

Ukraine has managed to reduce the threat to shipping posed by Russia’s Black Sea Fleet by repeatedly attacking its forces in Russian-occupied Crimea.

After a missile strike on the headquarters of the fleet in Sevastopol last September, satellite images showed that much of it had been moved further east to the port of Novorossiysk.

And on Tuesday, a Ukrainian attack on the Crimean port of Feodosiya damaged the large landing ship Novocherkassk.

However, Russia has continued to attack Ukrainian ports, while mines remain a constant threat to ships.

Its defence ministry has said it regards all cargo ships in the Black Sea bound for Ukraine as potential military targets.

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