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Russia is losing Crimean hub in Black Sea, says Ukrainian navy chief

Ukraine’s naval chief claims that nearly all combat-ready Russian warships have been relocated from Crimea, significantly impacting Moscow’s Black Sea operations.
ukraine destroys tsyklon russia's last surface kalibr missile ship
Russian Black Sea Fleet’s Project 22800 Karakurt-class Tsiklon ship in April 2022. Photo via Defense Express
Russia is losing Crimean hub in Black Sea, says Ukrainian navy chief

Ukraine’s navy chief, Vice-Admiral Oleksiy Neizhpapa, said that Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has been forced to relocate most of its combat-ready warships from occupied Crimea due to Ukrainian attacks.

Euractive reports, citing Neizhpapa, that missile and naval drone strikes have severely damaged the Sevastopol base, a crucial logistics center for the Russian navy.

“They were established over many decades, possibly centuries. And clearly, they are now losing this hub,” he said.

The vice-admiral claimed that Ukraine has destroyed or damaged 27 Russian naval vessels, including five damaged by sea mines laid by Ukrainian naval drones near Sevastopol Bay. He said that Russia has moved its ships to Novorossiysk and the Sea of Azov, but these locations lack the extensive facilities of Sevastopol.

“Almost all the main combat-ready ships have been moved by the Russian forces from the main base of the Black Sea Fleet, and the ships are kept in Novorossiysk, and some of them are kept in the Sea of Azov,” Neizhpapa said.

The relocation has impacted Russia’s ability to launch cruise missile strikes on Ukraine, as Sevastopol served as the primary storage and loading site for these weapons. Neizhpapa suggested that Russia is now trying to solve this logistical problem in Novorossiysk.

Ukraine’s success in the Black Sea has allowed it to establish its own shipping corridor without Russian approval. Neizhpapa said that Russian warships no longer enter a northwestern area of the Black Sea, covering almost 25,000 square kilometers.

The vice-admiral expressed optimism about the future delivery of F-16 fighter jets, stating they would help challenge Russia’s air dominance over the Black Sea.

“F-16s with the right armaments will be able to push away Russian warplanes. The northwestern part of the Black Sea, particularly the corridor for civilian ships, will be almost 100% secure,” he said.

Neizhpapa also discussed Ukraine’s desire to expand its shipping corridor to include the ports of Mykolaiv and Kherson but said this is currently impossible due to Russia’s control of the Kinburn Spit.

Moscow seized and annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. Before February 2022, Russia used its Black Sea Fleet, which consists of dozens of warships, to project power into the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

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