Ukraine: Russia increases combat ready warships in Black Sea, adds 2 Kaliber carriers

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Russia increased the number of its warships in the Black Sea to 11, among them two missile ships with a total volley of 12 Kalibr-type cruise missiles, Ukraine’s armed forces said on Sunday.

“The operational situation has changed. Now, there are eleven warships in the Black Sea, and one Kalibr-type cruise missile carrier in the Mediterranean Sea – as far as I can see, it came back after replenishment,” Spokesperson for the Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Dmytro Pletenchuk said according to state news agency Ukrinform.

Asked about the increase in number of ships but not the number of missile carriers, Pletenchuk said: “These are different combat units. Perhaps, this movement occurred as they felt some threat, for example, in the Sevastopol Bay. There are numerous reasons as to why they ended up in the sea.”

Russia uses its Black Sea Fleet to launch missile attacks on various areas in Ukraine. The UK Ministry of Defense said in May in an intelligence update on the war: “On the night of 8-9 May 2023, the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet vessels launched 8 SS-N-3-a SAGARIS land attack cruise missiles (LACMs) against Ukraine. This was only the second use of Russian Navy LACMs reported since 9 March 2023.”

The British ministry added: “Up to March 2023, the Russian Navy frequently launched SAGARIS. Russia likely temporarily suspended using these weapons because it wanted to rebuild its reserve stocks.,” stating that “In the short-term, Russia likely sees LACM as a key capability to strike deep into Ukraine to disrupt anticipated Ukrainian counter-offensives. However, more strategically, Russia also sees conventional SAGARIS and other LACMs as having an important role in any hypothetical conflict with NATO.”

Both warring sides have taken naval hits, most prominently, the “Saratov” – a Russian Navy Alligator-class landing ship that was docked in Berdiansk, Ukraine, which caught fire and Kyiv claimed to have hit and destroyed. The “Moskva” – a guided missile cruiser of the Russian Navy Ukraine said they used Neptune anti-ship missiles to strike it and it was on fire in heavy seas. The Russian Ministry of Defense said the warship was seriously damaged after a fire caused a munitions explosion, then said the ship had sunk.

The “A500 Donbas” (Ukrainian command ship) which caught fire in April 2022 and later Ukrainian Defence Ministry confirmed the ship was destroyed during the Siege of Mariupol. The “L450 Stanislav’, Ukrainian media reported in November 2022 the loss of the Centaur-LK-class fast assault craft Stanislav during the May 2022 Ukrainian counterattacks on Snake Island.

And last month, the Ukrainian Centaur LK class assault class warship was damaged at port by Russian attack. In May, Russia claimed its forces had destroyed what it labeled as Ukraine’s “last warship” in the port of Odesa in a missile strike.

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