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ISW: Russia transfers Black Sea Fleet vessels to avoid Ukrainian fire

by Abbey Fenbert October 5, 2023 6:06 AM 2 min read
Russia's Black Sea Fleet warships take part in the Navy Day celebrations in the port city of Novorossiysk on July 30, 2023. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)
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Russian forces recently transferred several Black Sea Fleet ships from Sevastopol in occupied Crimea to a port in Novorossiysk, Russia, likely in an attempt to safeguard the vessels from further Ukrainian strikes, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote in its Oct. 4 report.

According to satellite imagery from Oct. 1 and Oct. 3, the Russian military has moved at least 10 vessels, including the frigates Admiral Makarov and Admiral Essen, from Sevastopol to Novorossiysk.

The transfer also reportedly includes three diesel submarines, five landing ships, and multiple small missile ships.

The ISW views the vessel transfer as a defensive move, though it noted that a Russian think tank, Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, claimed the transfer was routine.

On Sept. 22, the Ukrainian military confirmed a successful strike on the Black Sea Fleet's headquarters in Sevastopol. The attack was reportedly carried out with long-range Storm Shadow missiles.

On Oct. 3, U.K. Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said Ukraine's attacks resulted in "the functional defeat" of the Russian fleet.

"Russian forces may be temporarily moving some vessels to Novorossiysk following multiple strikes on BSF assets in and near Sevastopol but will likely continue to use Sevastopol’s port, which remains the BSF’s base," the ISW said.

Russia's Black Sea Fleet has actively blocked trade routes following the collapse of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, threatening global food supplies.

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