What really happened to Russia's reconnaissance ship in the Black Sea?

What really happened to Russia's reconnaissance ship in the Black Sea?
The moment a drone reportedly hit the Ivan Khurs ship. / Ukraine Ministry of Defence
By Dominic Culverwell in London May 28, 2023

Ukraine fired several marine drones at Russia's Ivan Khurs reconnaissance ship in the Black Sea on May 24. For more than 24 hours, details about what happened to the vessel were a mystery, as the ship had seemingly disappeared. Now footage has emerged from Ukrainian and Russian sources, contradicting the claims made by either side. 

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence confirmed a drone had successfully made contact, releasing a dramatic point-of-view video of the unmanned vehicle reaching the Ivan Khurs, although it cuts before the actual moment of impact.

“When the Russian reconnaissance ship 'Ivan Khurs' met a Ukrainian drone. Indeed, a perfect match!” the Ministry tweeted.

Footage from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence

Ukrainian Pravda obtained a second video from an unnamed Ukrainian military source reportedly showing the moment of detonation from a different angle, writing: “The moment the Russian reconnaissance ship Ivan Khurs was hit by a Ukrainian naval drone in the Black Sea.”

Footage from Ukrainian Pravda

Ukraine asserts that the vessel was damaged but not sunk, unlike the Moskva warship in April 2022. Russian army veteran and war criminal Igor Girkin shared information on his Telegram channel that seemed to show the Ivan Khurs being towed by another vessel, COMMANDER, north of the Bosphorus strait.

Russia quickly denounced the claim, stating that the three attacking drones were destroyed before impact was made. On the morning of May 26, footage circulated online apparently showing the Ivan Khurs arriving into the annexed Sevastopol port undamaged and unaccompanied by COMMANDER. However, it is not clear if the video is recent or old.

The Ivan Khurs allegedly arrived in Sevastopol

Girkin later wrote on Telegram that either the damage was insignificant and had been repaired or that the attack never hit the vessel. Currently it is hard to determine the actual state of the vessel.

The Ivan Khurs collects intelligence and is armed with two marine pedestal machine-gun mounts and six 9K38 Igla surface-to-air missile system launchers.

Ukraine launched a marine drone strike on Russia’s Black Sea fleet in October 2022, sinking the fleet’s flagship off the Sevastopol naval base.

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