NewsUkraine's strategic edge: Crippling Russia’s Black Sea Fleet dominance

Ukraine's strategic edge: Crippling Russia’s Black Sea Fleet dominance

Ukrainians managed to corner the Black Sea Fleet.
Ukrainians managed to corner the Black Sea Fleet.
Images source: © East News | Vasiliy BATANOV

4:57 AM EDT, March 31, 2024

Mariusz Cielma, a military analyst, suggests that the Ukrainian forces have strategically cornered the Russian Black Sea Fleet. He credits the use of sea drones, along with British and French cruise missiles, as pivotal in this considerable feat.
Cielma, the editor-in-chief of "New Military Technology," points out that although Ukraine hasn’t taken full dominion over the Black Sea, their actions have significantly diminished Russian control. "The Ukrainians haven't taken over control of the Black Sea," he explains, "but they've effectively stripped it away from the Russians."
Highlighting the dramatic shift from earlier in the conflict, when Russian ships operated unchallenged near Ukraine and posed a threat of landing near Odesa, Cielma notes the Russian fleet is now defensively positioned.
He delineates the confrontation into three distinct phases, beginning with the early dominance of the Russian fleet. A pivotal moment came with Ukraine's sinking of the cruiser Moscow in April 2022, using Neptune missiles, alongside battles for Snake Island.
The subsequent phase saw a diminished Russian presence, with their operations largely confined near the Crimean Peninsula, yet maintaining a minimal presence in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
The situation evolved further with Ukraine's deployment of “kamikaze drones” aimed at Russian vessels, later complemented by Western cruise missiles fitted onto Su-24 bombers. "The Russian fleet has been put into steady defense since then," Cielma adds.
Cielma details these drones as considerable assets – elongated vessels piloted via satellite, equipped with comprehensive camera systems for day and night operation, and capable of carrying substantial explosive payloads for maritime assaults.
Another critical asset has been the Storm Shadow cruise missiles, known as SCALP-EG in their French variant, instrumental in targeting maritime and port infrastructure, including a strike on the Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Sevastopol.
Despite the Ukrainian navy operating largely in displacement, akin to the Polish fleet during World War II, Ukraine’s strategic maneuvers have facilitated the operational grain corridor, marking a significant victory for Ukraine after Russia exited the grain agreement supervised by the UN and Turkey.
Cielma underscores that Russia is ineffectual in blockading this passage, noting the strategic limitations and potential for direct attacks on civilian vessels as opposed to a more nuanced naval presence.
Furthermore, the main Russian fleet base relocation from Sevastopol to Novorossiysk, he observes, denotes a downgrade in operational and security preparedness.
Lastly, Cielma observes that, aside from intermittent missile assaults conducted by Russia, the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov have seen a stark absence of Russian naval activity. "For weeks, we've hardly seen any Russian ships in these waters," he states, reflecting on the apparent lack of strategic direction for the Russian fleet, juxtaposed with continued aviation reconnaissance over these areas.
From the historical sinking of the cruiser Moscow to continuous strikes on Russian naval assets, Ukraine has shown resilience and tactical prowess. "It began with the cruiser Moscow; that was a monumental victory," Cielma recollects, highlighting the evolution of Ukraine’s maritime defense and assault capabilities throughout the conflict.
Related content