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British Intel: Russia Uses Barges to Protect Naval Bases After Recent Ukrainian Drone Attack Successes.

| Defense News Army 2024

According to the latest information published on March 31, 2024, by the British Ministry of Defense (MoD) Intelligence services, newly analyzed satellite images have revealed a tactical maneuver by Russia at the Novorossiysk Sea Port. Situated at the entrance of this pivotal naval stronghold—Russia's Black Sea Fleet's second most crucial base after Sevastopol—four barges have been deliberately placed. This move comes as a direct response to the recent Ukrainian military success over Russian naval forces in Crimea, particularly at the Sevastopol base.
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This satellite picture shows Russia using barges to protect its naval base after Ukrainian drone attacks. (Picture source British MoD)

The positioning of the barges is interpreted as an effort to fortify the port's defenses, especially against the threat of Ukrainian Unmanned Surface Vessels (USVs). These vessels have become increasingly significant following a series of bold attacks on the Sevastopol naval base, highlighting the strategic importance of Novorossiysk as a protective harbor for Russia's naval assets.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense showcased its new military tactics on March 5, 2024, with the release of a video demonstrating a successful drone strike on the Caesar Kunikov, a Russian Navy's Project 775 Ropucha-class landing ship. Ukraine's adept use of USVs, dubbed "Sea Babies" in some circles, has been a game-changer. Lacking a traditional naval fleet, Ukraine has turned to these naval drones, funded in part by significant crowdfunding efforts, to level the playing field against Russian naval might.

The impact of Ukraine's drone strategy has been profound, causing disarray among Russian naval forces in the Black Sea. These drones have not only targeted and destroyed key warships but have also struck vital infrastructure such as sections of the Kerch Bridge, further complicating Russia's military logistics in the region.

Further evidence of the Ukrainian Armed Forces' strategic focus on crippling the combat capabilities of the Russian Navy was unveiled on March 29, 2024, through satellite imagery released by the British Ministry of Defense's Intelligence Services. This imagery laid bare the extent of devastation at the Sevastopol naval base, confirming the annihilation of two Ropucha-class landing ships and one Yury Ivanov-class intelligence vessel due to a targeted offensive on March 24, 2024.

The Black Sea stands as a critical juncture to the wider world, holding vast strategic and economic value for both Russia and Ukraine. Central to Russia's military operations in the area is its Black Sea Fleet, anchored in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol since 1793. The annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 elevated the importance of this base for Moscow, marking it as a pivotal deep-water port that remains operational for military objectives throughout the winter months.

Targeting the Russian Black Sea Fleet is a strategic priority for Ukraine, as it serves to directly challenge Russia's ability to project naval power in the Black Sea and beyond, into areas like the Eastern Mediterranean. The fleet is not just a symbol of military strength but also a critical component of Russia's broader strategy for regional dominance and influence. By focusing on diminishing the fleet's capabilities, Ukraine can potentially alter the balance of power in the region, making it more difficult for Russia to conduct amphibious operations, enforce blockades, and threaten Ukrainian and allied maritime interests.

Additionally, the Black Sea Fleet plays a significant role in supporting ground and air operations against Ukraine, especially in the context of the ongoing conflict. Disrupting its operations can limit Russia's logistic and operational support, directly impacting its ability to sustain prolonged military engagements.

Moreover, the fleet is instrumental in securing Russia's access to the Mediterranean, serving as a conduit for projecting military power into the Middle East and North Africa. Attacking this strategic asset not only cripples Russia's current military capabilities but also sends a strong message to the international community about Ukraine's resolve and capability to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Defense News April 2024

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