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Furious Putin 'orders Crimea commanders to the frontline' as punishment for humiliating sinking of Black Sea ship
28 December 2023, 09:06
Furious Vladimir Putin has ordered commanders in Crimea to join the frontline after losing another important warship.
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The Novocherkassk, a tank landing ship in Feodosiya, Crimea, was hit by a British cruise missile fired by a Ukrainian Su-24 jet on Tuesday.
Its massive detonation - possibly triggered by a shipment of notorious Iranian Shahed suicide drones, used by Russia to batter Ukraine - has left 52 of the 77 sailors aboard missing or injured.
It is thought the real death toll may be even higher given the size of the blast.
The attack is humiliating for Putin, who has watched his Black Sea fleet get decimated since he launched his invasion last year.
Ukrainian partisans now claim he is furious, and has ordered raids against possible pro-Kyiv resistance members on the Crimean peninsula, which he annexed through force in 2014.
Atesh, a partisan group, said on Telegram that residents were having their smartphones seized and houses searched.
"It is reported that Putin is completely furious over the destruction of the Novocherkassk large landing ship," they wrote.
"An order was issued to punish the Crimean air defence forces. It is expected that many commanders will be removed and sent to the front to participate in assault groups."
Such units are almost a death sentence in Ukraine.
Several have been formed from convicts, released from jail specifically to be thrown into a conflict that has effectively become a stalemate.
In a bid to break Ukrainian lines, assault groups are used as disposable infantry, designed to draw fire so more capable Russian units can then target Kyiv's defenders.
Such a posting for commanders who had so far seen out the war on the holiday peninsula - albeit one that has become a major target for Ukrainian attacks - would demonstrate how furious Putin is.
Last year, he lost the Black Sea fleet's flagship the Moskva, which Ukraine has memorialised as a key moment in its campaign for freedom.