Russia transferred many Black Sea Fleet vessels to protect from Ukraine strikes: ISW

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Russia’s military transferred several Black Sea Fleet vessels from the port in Sevastopol, Crimea, to the port in Novorossiysk, Russia, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said.

The Washington-based think tank said satellite imagery showed that Russian forces transferred at least 10 vessels from Sevastopol to Novorossiysk. It noted that the move was “likely in an effort to protect them from continued Ukrainian strikes on Russian assets in occupied Crimea.”

ISW said: “Russian forces may be temporarily moving some vessels to Novorossiysk following multiple strikes on Black Sea Fleet assets in and near Sevastopol but will likely continue to use Sevastopol’s port, which remains the Black Sea Fleet’s base.”

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In September, Ukraine launched a missile attack on the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea navy in the Crimean port of occupied Sevastopol. The Special Operations Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said that the strike killed 34 Russian officers, including the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

The Ukrainian Navy later said that the Russians will face challenges in controlling their troops deployed in the Black Sea area after the Ukrainian strike on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet killed their commander.

The British ministry of defense said in its war intelligence update end of last month that Ukraine’s recent attacks targeting Russia’s Black Sea Fleet have left it “diminished” but still capable of conducting its core wartime missions.

The UK intelligence update said: “The Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF) has suffered a series of major attacks in recent weeks, culminating in strikes on its headquarters on 20 and 22 September 2023. These attacks have been more damaging and more coordinated than thus far in the war.”

The UK ministry said: “The physical damage to the BSF is almost certainly severe but localized. The fleet almost certainly remains capable of fulfilling its core wartime missions of cruise missile strikes and local security patrols.”

It added: “It is, however, likely that its ability to continue wider regional security patrols and enforce its de facto blockade of Ukrainian ports will be diminished. It also likely has a degraded ability to defend its assets in port and to conduct routine maintenance.”

“A dynamic, deep strike battle is underway in the Black Sea. This is likely forcing Russia into a reactive posture whilst demonstrating that Ukraine’s military can undermine the Kremlin’s symbolic and strategic power projection from its warm water port in occupied Sevastopol,” the British report stated.

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