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Russian Navy redeploys 2 Kalibr-capable submarines in Black Sea.

| Naval News Navy 2024

According to information published by the Ukrainian MoD on April 26, 2024, the Russian Navy has redeployed two submarines capable of launching Kalibr missiles in the Black Sea.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Russian Improved Kilo class submarine Rostov on Don. (Picture source: Портфель Генштаба)

Russia's deployment and use of Kalibr missiles have increased over the years. As of early 2024, reports indicated that Russia had been accumulating these missiles possibly in response to the depletion of other types of cruise missiles like the Kh-101. This stockpiling suggests a strategic reserve that could allow for sustained missile operations, even as other resources are exhausted​.

Despite the strategic advantages, Russian forces have faced logistical challenges that hinder the regular use of Kalibr missiles. Issues such as difficulties in maintaining launch platforms and missile reloads have been compounded by infrastructural limitations at key naval bases like Sevastopol.

In recent months, Kalibr missiles have been actively used to strike significant targets within Ukraine, including an arms depot in the Zaporizhzhia region that reportedly housed weapons supplied by Western countries. This strike is part of a broader pattern where Russia has employed long-range cruise missiles to degrade Ukraine’s military capabilities and disrupt its logistical networks​​.

These missiles, capable of being launched from submarines and surface ships stationed in the Black Sea or further afield, afford Russia a tactical flexibility that complicates defense planning for Ukraine. The capacity to strike from a distance shifts the battlefield dynamics, potentially extending the operational reach of Russian forces without the need to engage in proximate, conventional warfare.

It is worth recalling the background to the war in Ukraine. At the start of the war, the Russian forces were effective in recovering part of the Ukrainian coastline and thus its naval capabilities. In any case, Russia was far superior in terms of tonnage.

Nevertheless, with the sinking of the cruiser Moskva, followed by strikes against ships and submarines such as the Admiral Makarov, the submarine Rostov on Don and the spy ship Yury Ivanov, the Ukrainians succeeded in weakening the Russian naval forces in the Black Sea.

This is important, both because Russia was using its surface forces to strike at towns in Ukraine and because, since the start of the war, Russia had been thinking of organising a landing with a view to invading the west coast of Ukraine, something it has not yet dared to attempt.

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