Ukraine strikes Russia’s Black Sea Fleet
There has been a big news story this week about Elon Musk’s decision not to extend Starlink communications to an area which might allow Ukraine to sink Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. It turns out that story was originally misreported and major outlets have since made corrections. In any case, today Ukraine demonstrated that it is capable of striking the Black Sea Fleet. The attack reportedly did serious damage two naval vessels which were in dry dock for repairs including a Russian sub.
The Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement that Ukraine had fired 10 cruise missiles at the facility at the same time as it targeted a Russian warship on the Black Sea with three maritime drones. Air defense systems shot down seven cruise missiles, and the patrol ship Vasily Bykov destroyed the unmanned drones, the ministry said.
Moscow’s rare acknowledgment of a successful Ukrainian attack in Crimea came only after local residents posted images of explosions and raging fires at the Sevmorzavod shipyard on social media.
There was no way to hide this because the explosion was massive and was caught on video by lots of people.
There was a substantial fire that kept burning at the site.
At a minimum, one ship and one sub were damaged, likely beyond repair.
Independent open-source intelligence analysts posted satellite imaging showing that two Russian navy vessels, a Kilo-class submarine and a Ropucha-class landing ship, were in the Sevmorzavod dry docks shortly before the attack. The extent of the fire suggested that both vessels were destroyed beyond possibility of repair, they said.
Sevastopol is the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, and ships and submarines based there play a key role in launching cruise-missile attacks on Ukrainian cities.
If the ships were destroyed this will be an expensive strike for Russia. The kilo-class sub was launched in 2014 and reportedly cost around $300 million dollars. But just as significant may have been the loss of the dry dock itself.
As complex pieces of heavy machinery, necessary for the basic maintenance of any naval force, dry docks–facilities where ships be floated in and repaired after water is pumped out–are not easy things to fix. America is spending billions to refresh undamaged dry docks. Repairing battle damage will be far more costly.
Russia’s inability to defend these vital pieces of critical military infrastructure is a stunning military failure, suggesting Russia’s air defenses are either inadequate, broken or both…
Russia’s lack of modern Black Sea waterfront repair infrastructure is a serious problem for Russia’s Black Sea fleet. Without maintenance support, Russia’s entire Black Sea Fleet will, in a matter of months, be operationally ineffective–and effectively sunk.
Another aspect of this attack that is getting lots of attention is that missiles provided by the UK were likely used:
Ryzhenko said Ukraine may have used domestically made Neptune anti-ship missiles that had been modified to work against ground targets. British-supplied Storm Shadow cruise missiles were another possibility, he said.
Britain’s Sky News cited unnamed sources saying Storm Shadows were used in the attack.
This isn’t the only recent success Ukraine has claimed in the Black Sea. Monday there were reports that Ukraine had retaken two oil drilling rigs which Russia had controlled since 2015:
Ukrainian forces have regained control of several gas and oil offshore drilling platforms close to Crimea from Russia, Ukraine’s military intelligence (GUR) has said.
In a statement on the Telegram messaging app on Monday, the GUR said that Kyiv’s forces had retaken the drilling platforms known as the “Boyko Towers” in a “unique operation”.
It said the platforms had been occupied since 2015 by Russia, which seized and annexed Crimea in 2014, and had been used by Moscow for military purposes since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion on Ukraine in February 2022.
So, once again, Russia is not having a good week. The destruction of a sub and a landing ship represent another major embarrassment for Russia.
Update: Courtesy of Julia Davis, Solovyov is having another bad day. He seems to be sedated in this clip even as he’s calling for a declaration of war against the entire western world.