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Ukrainian Intelligence Details Sabotage Operation Against Russian Corvette in the Baltic Sea.

In early June, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian naval forces claimed that the Russian destroyer Admiral Levchenko, an Udaloy-class ship, had experienced a fire in its engine room while navigating the Barents Sea. Shortly after, a photo surfaced on the social network VK showing the ship apparently undamaged, captioned "under the June sun." The following week, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced the completion of an "air defense exercise."
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Udaloy class destroyer Admiral Levchenko (Picture source: Lenta)

It's unusual for the Ukrainian navy to comment on the status of a Russian warship operating more than 1500 km from the Black Sea. However, there is a precedent: On April 8, the Main Directorate of Ukrainian Military Intelligence (GUR) claimed responsibility for a fire aboard the corvette Serpoukhov, a Buyan-M class vessel normally stationed at the naval base in Baltiysk, Kaliningrad.

GUR released a video showing the corvette's schematics and an incendiary device in one of its compartments, claiming the fire had "devastated its communications capabilities." The Russian General Staff made no comments on the incident.

Admiral Levchenko is a Russian destroyer of the Udaloy class. The ship was laid down in 1982 and was commissioned in the Soviet Navy in 1988. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the ship continued to serve in the Russian Navy with the Northern Fleet. The Udaloy class, Russian designations Project 1155 Fregat and Project 11551 Fregat-M, are a series of anti-submarine guided-missile destroyers built for the Soviet Navy, seven of which are currently in service with the Russian Navy.

The Admiral Levchenko has an overall length of 163 m, a beam of 19.3m, and a draught of 6.2m. The displacement of the ship is 6,200 tons. She can reach a maximum speed of 29 kt and a range of 10,500 nm at 14kt. It has a crew of 300 sailors.

The main air defense weapons are the 3K95 Kinzhal Naval SAM system with 64 missiles. Artillery armament included two 100-mm AK-100 single-shot artillery guns and four 30-mm AK-630M artillery guns. Anti-submarine warfare weapons included a Metel SAM system with two quadruped fixed launchers, two four-tube 533-mm torpedo launchers, and two RBU-6000.

Three months later, as the situation at the front became more challenging for Ukrainian forces, particularly around Chasiv Yar, GUR provided more details on the Serpoukhov incident. The operation, named "Rybalka" (Fisherman), was reminiscent of the "Synytsia" (Titmouse) operation that allowed GUR to capture a Russian Mil Mi-8 helicopter loaded with spare parts for combat aircraft in August 2023 due to the defection of its pilot.

During a July 3 press conference, GUR spokesperson Andriy Youssov explained that "Rybalka," planned in 2023, was executed by a crew member of the corvette who had decided to defect. Known as "Goga," he had previously contacted Ukrainian military intelligence and agreed to neutralize the vessel he served on.

The images of the incendiary device published by Kyiv support this account. Moreover, Goga allegedly provided "secret information about the Baltic Fleet and the Russian military industry," suggesting he held a significant position. He had served 11 years at the time of the incident.

"This was our first operation against the Baltic Fleet. For the enemy, it was a shock and a great surprise. After this operation, there were investigations, sanctions, and reshuffles. Clearly, some heads rolled," the GUR spokesperson stated without further detail.
The Russian sailor responsible for the sabotage successfully escaped and joined the "Freedom of Russia" legion.

Present at the press conference, he recounted his attempts to resign after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. "I said I could no longer serve in the army. The commander was shocked when he read this. He immediately imposed a psychological evaluation on me, thinking I was abnormal for opposing the authorities. A psychiatrist's report was sent to the command to decide what to do with me," Goga explained.

"The prosecutor opened an administrative case against me. The prosecutor read the report and said I could not resign, giving me a first and final warning. No sanctions were taken against me, and I continued to serve on my ship," he continued, leading to the sabotage.

However, his decision to come forward may expose him to significant risks, as Russian services will likely seek retribution, as was the case with Captain Maxim Kouzminov, the defector from the "Synytsia" operation, who was assassinated near Alicante, Spain, in February of the previous year.

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