MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s defence ministry on Sunday said it had recovered and analysed the wreckage of drones used to attack ships of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Crimea the day before, finding that the drones were equipped with Canadian-made navigation.
The ministry has said Ukraine attacked the Black Sea Fleet near Sevastopol with 16 drones early on Saturday, and that British navy “specialists” had helped coordinate what it called a terrorist attack, a claim Britain has denied.
Russia said it had repelled the attack but that the ships targeted were involved in ensuring the grain corridor out of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
Ukrainian officials have suggested that Russia itself may have been responsible for the explosions, which it has used as a pretext to pull out of a U.N.-brokered grain deal, a move that undermines efforts to ease a global food crisis.
Reuters was not immediately able to verify either side’s claims.
“According to the results of the information recovered from the navigation receiver’s memory, it was established that the launch of maritime drones was carried out from the coast near the city of Odesa,” the ministry said in a statement.
It said the drones had moved along the “grain corridor” security zone, before changing course to head for Russia’s naval base in Sevastopol, the largest city on the Crimean peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
The ministry said one of the maritime drones appeared to have started from within the security zone of grain corridor itself.
“This may indicate the preliminary launch of this device from aboard one of the civilian vessels chartered by Kyiv or its Western patrons for the export of agricultural products from the seaports of Ukraine,” the defence ministry said.
(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)