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Russia continues to redeploy Black Sea Fleet from Crimea, Ukraine promises ‘new steps’ to target it

by Chris York March 21, 2024 6:52 PM 1 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. (STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)
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Russia is continuing the redeployment of its Black Sea Fleet from occupied Crimea to the relative safety of Novorossiysk after yet more successful strikes on its ships, Ukraine’s military intelligence (HUR) reported on March 21.

Speaking on national television, HUR spokesperson Andrii Yusov said Black Sea Fleet headquarters infrastructure and warships “are being actively relocated.”

“The redeployment to Novorossiysk continues, although they cannot completely leave temporarily occupied Crimea without naval forces as such,” he said, adding: “Otherwise, that would mean fleeing.”

Russia began the redeployment of the Black Sea Fleet last year after a series of devastating Ukrainian strikes including a missile attack on its headquarters in Sevastopol on Sept. 22.

Satellite imagery from Oct. 1 and Oct. 3 showed Russia had moved at least 10 vessels, including the frigates Admiral Makarov and Admiral Essen, from Sevastopol to Novorossiysk, located on the Russian coast and out of range of weapons like the Storm Shadow missiles.

But in the months since, the fleet has continued to lose ships in the Black Sea, most recently the Sergey Kotov patrol ship which was hit and sunk by Ukraine’s domestically-produced Magura V5 naval drones.

The Strategic Communications Center of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (StratCom) recently reported that as of early February 2024, 33% of the fleet’s warships had been disabled including 24 ships and one submarine.

Russia has taken a number of steps to address the continuing threat, including replacing the commander of the Russian Navy earlier this month.

On March 17, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on a visit to Sevastopol said Black Sea Fleet ships would be armed with heavy-caliber machine guns to help destroy Ukrainian sea drones.

Referencing Russia’s new push to protect its ships, Yusov said that Ukraine’s future attacks will not necessarily be a repetition of previous operations.

“These will be new combined steps in the air, at sea, and on land.”

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