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UK Defense Ministry: Ukraine, Russia fight over strategically important Black Sea gas platforms

by The Kyiv Independent news desk August 27, 2023 2:42 PM 2 min read
Offshore rigs, operated by Chornomornaftogaz, a division of Naftogaz now occupied by Russia, stand in the Odessa gas field in the Black Sea, Ukraine. (Photographer: Vincent Mundy/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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Skirmishes between Ukraine and Russia's maritime and air forces are unfolding over strategically important gas and oil platforms in the Black Sea, the U.K. Defense Ministry wrote in its intelligence update on Aug. 27.

When Russia illegally annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, occupation authorities seized control of the platforms, which the Chornomornaftogaz company operates.

According to the U.K. Defense Ministry, Ukraine has launched strikes against several Russian-controlled platforms since the start of the full-scale invasion in February 2022. Both Russia and Ukraine have also periodically held them with troops.

A Russian combat jet shot at a small Ukrainian military boat operating near a platform in the northwest area of the Black Sea last week, the U.K. Defense Ministry added.

The platforms contain valuable natural resources and can "also be used as forward deployment bases, helicopter landing sites, and to position long-range missile systems," the ministry wrote, underlying the strategic influence of controlling them.

Inching forward in Bakhmut counteroffensive, Ukraine’s hardened units look ahead to long, grim war
Editor’s note: Though the commanders quoted in this story are public figures, the other soldiers are identified by first names and callsigns only due to security reasons. DONETSK OBLAST — In a wide field in Donetsk Oblast, the silence of what would otherwise be a sleepy August afternoon is broken

The oil platforms were built by Ukraine between 2010 and 2012, under pro-Russian Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko. The procurement of oil platforms and construction was followed by allegations of mismanagement and embezzlement.

A criminal case was opened following the scandal. No charges were issued.

After Russia launched its war against Ukraine in 2014, the oil rigs were captured by Russia, while the Crimean-based Chornomornaftogaz was raided and illegally "nationalized" by Russia.

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