HomeTop StoriesUkrainian attacks are increasingly undermining the power of Russia's Black Sea Fleet

Ukrainian attacks are increasingly undermining the power of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet

Ukrainian naval drones reportedly sank another Russian warship in the Black Sea on Tuesday, the latest in a series of attacks that have crippled Moscow’s naval capabilities and limited its operations as the war now enters its third year.

Successful Ukrainian drone and missile strikes have given a major boost to Kiev’s morale at a time when its undermanned and under-equipped armed forces face Russian attacks along its more than 1,000 kilometers of front lines.

Challenging Russian naval superiority has also helped create more favorable conditions for Ukrainian grain exports and other transports from the country’s Black Sea ports.

Here’s a look at recent Ukrainian attacks on Russian naval assets and their consequences.

CONSISTENT STRIKES

In the latest reported attack, Ukrainian naval drones attacked the patrol ship Sergei Kotov near the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black Sea and the Sea of ​​Azov, Ukrainian military intelligence said. The attack, which could not be independently verified, killed seven members of the Russian crew and injured six others, while 52 were rescued, the agency said.

The Russian Defense Ministry did not comment on the claim, but some Russian military bloggers confirmed the loss of the ship and said the crew had been rescued.

If the attack is verified, it would be the latest successful use of Ukraine’s domestically produced Magura drones, the agile unmanned boats that have become the arch-enemy of the Russian Navy. Just last month, drones sank the Russian amphibious landing ship Caesar Kunikov and the missile corvette Ivanovets. The Russian military has not acknowledged these losses either, but they have been reported by Russian military bloggers and some media outlets.

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In another attack in late December, Ukraine said it destroyed the Novocherkassk landing ship in Crimea’s Feodosia port with long-range cruise missiles. The Russian Defense Ministry said the ship was damaged in the attack, but Russian war bloggers said it was lost.

The Ukrainian military has also launched a series of sustained cruise missile and drone attacks on Russian radar facilities, air defense assets and air bases in Crimea, a region of Ukraine that Russia annexed in 2014. To add to the pain for Moscow, Ukrainian forces also seized two Russian early warning and control aircraft over the Sea of ​​Azov in January and February, depriving the Russian military of some of its most valuable intelligence-gathering assets.

The strikes followed other highly efficient Ukrainian attacks earlier in the war, including the sinking of the Black Sea Fleet’s flagship missile cruiser Moskva in April 2022 and a missile attack last September on the fleet’s headquarters in Sevastopol port .

UKRAINE’S DEADLY WEAPONS

The clever use of remote-controlled drone boats loaded with explosives has allowed Ukraine to tip the scales of the naval war in its favor, despite Russia’s vast superiority in firepower. The Magura drones are equipped with advanced GPS and cameras and have a low radar signature making them difficult to detect.

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The latest version, the Magura V5, is 5.5 meters long, weighs up to 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) and has a range of up to 800 kilometers (500 miles), a battery life of 60 hours and a battery life of 200 hours. kilograms (440 pounds) of payload, according to Ukrainian authorities. It also transmits live video to operators.

Ukraine has also relied on cruise missiles from Britain and France to attack Russian assets in Crimea. The missiles – jointly produced by Britain and France and called Storm Shadow by Britain and SCALP-EG by France – are launched from Soviet-era Ukrainian fighter jets and have a range of more than 250 kilometers (155 miles).

Western officials praise the efficiency of the Ukrainian attacks, noting that Kiev has shrewdly used its limited resources to defeat much stronger Russian forces and destroy about 20% of the Black Sea fleet, effectively weakening Moscow’s maritime dominance.

AN END TO THE RUSSIAN BLOCKADE

The successful attacks on the Russian navy have allowed Ukraine to increase its exports of food and other products from the Black Sea, despite Russia withdrawing from an agreement last summer that guaranteed safe shipments of Ukrainian grain.

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Moscow’s withdrawal from the deal has raised the possibility of Russian attacks on ships carrying Ukrainian grain and other products, which would threaten Ukraine’s economy and global food security.

But the steady series of successful Ukrainian attacks on Russian warships and other military assets in the area have put the Russian fleet on the defensive, limiting its offensive capabilities.

HOW DOES RUSSIA RESPOND?

While the Russian Defense Ministry has largely remained silent on the Ukrainian drone and missile attacks on its naval assets, Russian military bloggers and commentators have sharply criticized the top military brass for its slow and sloppy response to the threat.

The attacks have forced the Russian Navy to take precautions that have affected its operations, including moving some of its ships from ports in Crimea further east to Novorossiysk to better protect them.

Despite the damage from Ukrainian attacks, the Black Sea Fleet remains a powerful fighting force and is still capable of conducting long-range cruise missile attacks on Ukraine. Russian air bases in Crimea have also remained operational, hosting fighter aircraft that have continued to fly combat flights in support of ground operations in the region.

Russian military bloggers reported that the head of the Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Viktor Sokolov, was fired last month after the latest warship losses. There was no official confirmation of his ouster.

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