The Russian Black Sea Fleet’s ability to use its Novorossiysk naval base to reload vessels with cruise missiles is likely to become a significant factor in the fleet’s operational effectiveness, the U.K. Defense Ministry said in its intelligence update on Nov. 25.
The Ukrainian military reported on Nov 13 that Russia has paused launching maritime cruise missiles against Ukraine because of “logistical problems” at Novorossiysk.
“Russia will likely seek to expedite overcoming such issues in time for maritime cruise missiles to be included in any winter campaign of strikes against Ukraine,” the U.K. ministry said on X.
According to the report, Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has reloaded cruise missiles at occupied Sevastopol in Crimea, which is held at risk by Ukrainian long-range strikes.
Following Ukrainian strikes on the Russian Black Sea Fleet in occupied Sevastopol in late September, Russia transferred several ships, including submarines, from Sevastopol to a port in Novorossiysk. The move was likely an attempt to safeguard the vessels from further Ukrainian strikes, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in its Oct. 4 report.
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.
Russia will “highly likely” see Novorossiysk as the alternative site, the British ministry said in an update.
However, relocating and reloading the missiles would require new delivery, storage, handling, and loading processes, according to the U.K. Defense Ministry.
Russia's Black Sea Fleet has actively blocked trade routes following the collapse of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, threatening global food supplies.