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UK Defense Ministry: Strikes on Black Sea Fleet hinder Russia's blockade capabilities

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk September 26, 2023 10:37 AM 2 min read
Dense black smoke rises above the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in occupied Sevastopol, southwestern Crimea, following the Ukrainian missile strike on Sept. 22. (Krym.Realii/Telegram)
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Recent Ukrainian strikes on Russia's Black Sea Fleet caused "almost certainly severe but localized" physical damage, likely leaving the fleet capable of performing basic combat tasks such as cruise missile attacks and local security patrols, the U.K. Defense Ministry reported on Sept. 26.

However, the Russian fleet's ability to continue wider regional security patrols and enforce its de facto blockade of Ukrainian ports will likely be reduced, the ministry wrote in its latest intelligence update.

"It also likely has a degraded ability to defend its assets in port and to conduct routine maintenance," adds the update.

Over the past weeks, the Russian Black Sea Fleet, based in occupied Crimea, has suffered a series of major attacks, including strikes on its command post and headquarters on Sept. 20 and 22.

"These attacks have been more damaging and more coordinated than thus far in the war," the U.K. Defense Ministry added.

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The Sept. 22 missile strike against the fleet's Sevastopol headquarters killed 34 Russian officers, including the fleet's commander, and injured 105 more soldiers, the Ukrainian military reported. According to Sky News, the attack was carried out using U.K.-provided long-range Storm Shadow missiles.

Sky News reported earlier that Storm Shadow missiles were also used in an attack against the Sevmorzavod repair facility in Sevastopol on Sept. 13. The strike dealt damage to the shipyard's infrastructure and took out of action a submarine and a landing craft.

"A dynamic, deep strike battle is underway in the Black Sea. This is likely forcing Russia into a reactive posture whilst demonstrating that Ukraine's military can undermine the Kremlin's symbolic and strategic power projection from its warm water port in occupied Sevastopol," the British intelligence update concluded.

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