Two ferries damaged in Ukraine strike on Crimea, official says

(Reuters) - Ukraine's military said on Thursday it had damaged two ferries in Russian-held Crimea and halted their operations between the peninsula and the Russian mainland.

A Russia-appointed official in Crimea, Nikolai Lukashenko, had earlier acknowledged the strike in the port of Kerch, saying debris from downed Ukrainian missiles had damaged the vessels and operations on the ferry line had been suspended.

Ukraine's General Staff, in a statement on the Telegram messaging app, said the assault was carried out by Western-supplied Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS).

"As a result of the strike, two ferries carrying out rail and vehicular transport suffered significant damage," the statement said. "One of them ran aground, blocking the operations of the entire Kerch ferry crossing."

As a result of the operation, it said, "the military logistics of the occupiers on the peninsula have been significantly disrupted".

Ukraine's military has for months staged strikes on Crimea and, in particular, on vessels of the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquartered in the Crimean port of Sevastopol.

It has also staged two major attacks on the 18-km bridge complted in 2018 and spanning the Kerch Strait between Crimea to the Russian mainland.

Russia seized and annexed Crimea in 2014 in the aftermath of popular protests that prompted Russia-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych to flee the country.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Himani Sarkar, Ron Popeski and Alison Williams)