NewsUkrainian attacks cripple Russia's Black Sea Fleet and threaten central supply hub in Crimea

Ukrainian attacks cripple Russia's Black Sea Fleet and threaten central supply hub in Crimea

Ukrainian attacks cripple Russia's Black Sea Fleet and threaten central supply hub in Crimea
Images source: © GETTY | Contributor
9:39 AM EST, December 30, 2023

Ukrainians constantly bomb targets in Crimea and carry out particular operations on the peninsula. It has become the air offensive's primary target, and every attack results in substantial losses for Russians. The maneuvering missile's destruction of the landing ship "Novocherkassk" in the port of Theodosia is a significant instance of the recent failures in Crimea.

On December 26, the world witnessed images of a powerful explosion, followed by a torn, burnt-out wreck barely visible above the harbor basin. The Russians claimed that the "Novocherkassk" was slightly damaged and had gone to sea to fulfill assigned tasks, yet reality told a different story.

In reality, according to unofficial reports from Russian soldiers on social media, out of 77 sailors on board at the time of the attack, 33 are missing, and 19 are wounded.

However, recent information reveals that 74 crew members were killed. The National Resistance Center reported this on Friday, run by the Ukrainian Army's Special Operations Forces.

The Russians also confirmed that the ship sank, a significant loss for the Black Sea Fleet.

The supply artery

Since the war started, the Russians are confirmed to have lost two Tapir-class landing crafts and a Ropucha-class craft, "Novocherkassk," in Theodosia. Last year, this ship was damaged in Berdiansk alongside the "Caesar Kunikov". Another boat, the "Olenegorski Miner", was destroyed on the roads of Novorossiysk.

Given the significant depletion of units operating around Crimea, these losses are grave. Out of 12 large landing ships, nearly half cannot sail after a year of intense operations. This situation creates a significant problem in maintaining the supply level for the fighting troops, primarily since the land routes are frequently targeted by Ukrainian artillery.

This is why Ukrainians will continue to attack Crimean ports, docked ships, railway lines, bridges, and warehouses. Crimea is the central logistical hub for units fighting in Zaporizhzhia and southern Donbas. Paralyzing remains a crucial focus for Ukrainian aviation and long-range rocket artillery.

The method of Ukrainian strikes on Crimea

In the spring of this year, Ukrainian aviation received Storm Shadow missiles from the UK and its local equivalents, SCALP, from France. These missiles, weighing 2,866 pounds and measuring just over 16.4 feet long, are designed by the European arms consortium MBDA. They carry a 992-pound warhead and can deliver it to a distance of 348 miles at approximately 621 miles per hour.

The Ukrainians integrated these missiles with their Su-24M front bombers, of which they have a limited number. Before the war, they had 30 units but lost about 11 due to operations.

The exact number of missiles Kyiv received is classified, and rightfully so. For now, it is enough to know that this specific type of missile has been deployed. The Russians, unfamiliar with their full capabilities, cannot counter these strikes effectively. Notably, they are not launched individually but alongside ADM-160B MALD decoys.

With such a strategy, Ukrainians have successfully tricked the Russian defense in Sevastopol. The Russians primarily shot down decoys mimicking missile sprites, distracting them from the actual missiles. This strategy destroyed the S-400 anti-aircraft system, the large landing ship "Minsk", and the submarine "Rostov na Donu" in a single night.

Each attack is meticulously planned. This is primarily thanks to special forces soldiers operating behind enemy lines and carrying out reconnaissance using drones. Assistance from Americans who share satellite intelligence materials is invaluable.

The future of Crimea

The Kremlin claimed that Crimea is better defended than Moscow. However, in September, concerns emerged that despite the high saturation of anti-aircraft defense batteries, they might fail to protect the ports in Sevastopol or Theodosia adequately. Even as the Russians deployed elite anti-aircraft units to Crimea, this turned out to be accurate, prompting the Russians to bring in additional batteries from almost all of Russia. They intend to increase the strength of the anti-aircraft defense.

For Ukrainians to continue their pace of attacks, they need a more extensive fleet of aircraft capable of carrying Storm Shadow and anti-radar HARM missiles. These latter missiles are used to target radar stations and paralyze anti-aircraft defense. With them, they can create a gap through which maneuvering missiles can penetrate.

As such, delivering multi-purpose F-16 aircraft and regular shipments of maneuvering missiles is critical in maintaining regular attacks on Crimea. This strategy will force the Russians to maintain a robust military presence on the peninsula to safeguard logistical routes.

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