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Russian Tanker Hit by Ukrainian Drones: Russian Media

Chemical tanker SIG, which is under U.S. sanctions for supplying jet fuel to Russian forces in Syria supporting President Bashar al-Assad. Azer Musayev /

A Russian tanker was hit by Ukrainian drones in the Kerch Strait, briefly halting traffic on the strategic bridge linking Crimea to Russia, Russian media reported early Saturday.

The tanker was damaged in the attack and two tugboats had arrived at the scene, the state-run TASS news agency said, citing the Maritime Rescue Center.

No fuel had spilled from the ship, which had 11 people on board, TASS said.

The Moscow Times identified the vessel as the chemical tanker SIG, which is under U.S. sanctions for supplying jet fuel to Russian forces in Syria supporting President Bashar al-Assad.

The Russian tanker SIG was hit around 11:20 pm (2020 GMT) Friday south of the Kerch Strait, Russia's Federal Agency for Sea and Inland Water Transport said.

The SIG suffered a hole at the waterline in the area of the engine room, "presumably as a result of an attack by a marine drone," the agency said on Telegram. "The ship is afloat."

An oil boom had been placed around the vessel and preparations were under way to patch the damage, it said.

Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-installed official in the southern Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhia, said several members of the ship's crew were injured by broken glass in the attack.

"The detonation due to the explosion on the ship was visible from the peninsula, which the local residents thought was an explosion in the vicinity of Yakovenkovo settlement not far from the Crimean bridge," Rogov wrote on Telegram.

Traffic on the bridge linking the Moscow-annexed Crimean peninsula to Russia was halted for around three hours and resumed early Saturday, according to the highways information center's Telegram channel.

The Marine Traffic vessel-tracking website showed the SIG stationary and attended by tugs just south of the strait.

The latest attack in the Black Sea came a day after Ukraine said it had carried out a seaborne drone strike on a Russian navy ship at Novorossiysk naval base in southern Russia.

Russia said Friday it had repelled an attempted attack on the base by the Ukrainian armed forces "with the use of two unmanned sea boats."

The number of attacks in the Black Sea by both sides has increased since Moscow exited a deal last month that had allowed Ukrainian grain exports via the shipping hub during the conflict between the two countries.

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