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British intel: Russia uses deception techniques in Black Sea Fleet to protect forces, obscure operational plans

Despite Russia’s attempts, the British Defense Ministry assesses that Russian aircraft remain vulnerable while on operations in the Black Sea
Credit: British Defense Ministry
British intel: Russia uses deception techniques in Black Sea Fleet to protect forces, obscure operational plans

Russian military doctrine emphasizes using camouflage and deception techniques, known as “maskirovka,” to protect forces and obscure operational plans, the British Defense Ministry reported on 20 March. However, according to the British Defense Ministry, it is unlikely that these techniques will lead to any significant reduction in losses.

Ukraine recently increased its long-range strikes with drones and cruise missiles on the Black Sea Fleet to push Russian ships further away from the Ukrainian coast. It led to substantial vessel losses for Russia in the Black Sea. Since the invasion began in February 2022, Russia has lost nine major naval vessels, including the recent sinking of the corvette Sergey Kotov on 5 March.

“The lack of effective employment of maskirovka was one of Russia’s key operational failures in the early phases of the invasion of Ukraine,” the reports state.

In an effort to mitigate heavy losses suffered over the past two years by the Black Sea Fleet and Aerospace Forces, Russian forces “have highly likely been making efforts to increase and improve their employment of maskirovka techniques.”

At Russian air bases, maskirovka applications reportedly include “decoy dummy models of aircraft and tires on wings of planes.” The reports also mention “painted silhouettes of airframes at nine Russian air bases.”

In maritime, “vessels of the Black Sea Fleet have black paint on the bow and stern, likely to make their warships appear smaller and a less appealing target.”

“Silhouettes of vessels have also been painted on the side of quays, probably to confuse Ukrainian uncrewed aerial vehicle operators.”

However, the reports note that “despite these attempts at concealment, Russian aircraft are still vulnerable to conventional shootdowns while in the air, and Russian vessels are still vulnerable while on operations in the Black Sea.” They conclude that “it is unlikely that the use of maskirovka techniques will lead to any significant reduction in losses.”

The UK intel reported on 15 March that Russia appointed a new Navy commander, the former Black Sea Fleet chief,  following significant Russian vessel losses to Ukraine in the Black Sea.

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