Ukraine conflict: MoD confirm destruction of Russian vessel near Snake Island as Ukrainian forces 'neutralise Russia's ability to establish sea control'

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) have confirmed Ukrainian forces destroyed a Russian resupply vessel near Snake Island

The navy said the Vasily Bekh was used to transport ammunition, weapons and personnel to Snake Island

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The MoD have now confirmed that the forces were using Western-donated Harpoon anti-ship missiles – with the incident being the first successful use of such weapons in the conflict.

An update from the MoD read: “On 17 June 2022, Ukrainian forces claimed their first successful use of Western-donated Harpoon anti-ship missiles to engage Russian maritime forces.

"The target of the attack was almost certainly the Russian naval tug Spasatel Vasily Bekh, which was delivering weapons and personnel to Snake Island in the north-western Black Sea.

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"The destruction of the Russian vessel on a resupply mission demonstrates the difficulty Russia faces when attempting to support their forces occupying Snake Island.

In this handout photo released by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service released on Sunday, June 19, 2022, The Russian frigate of the Black Sea Fleet from the Black Sea launches a Caliber cruise missile at designated ground targets on a mission at an undisclosed location in Ukraine. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

"This is the latest in a series of Russian vessels, including the cruiser Moskva, to be damaged or destroyed by Ukraine during the conflict."

It added: “Ukrainian coastal defence capability has largely neutralised Russia's ability to establish sea control and project maritime force in the north-western Black Sea.

"This has undermined the viability of Russia's original operational design for the invasion, which involved holding the Odesa region at risk from the sea.”

The Ukrainian president has told the African Union that the continent has been “taken hostage” in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine amid catastrophically rising food prices.

President Volodymyr Zelensky’s closed-door speech followed weeks of requests for him to address African nations.

Many of them retain close ties to Russia and failed to support a UN General Assembly resolution condemning the invasion.

Ukraine and the West hope to weaken those ties by emphasising that Russia’s actions are to blame for dramatic shortages of wheat and edible oils and skyrocketing food and fuel prices across Africa.

Russia is the largest weapons exporter to sub-Saharan Africa, and Moscow emphasises its long ties with African nations dating to the Soviet Union.

The EU’s top diplomat said he has written to all African foreign ministers to explain that the bloc’s sanctions on Russia are not responsible for the looming global food crisis.