Russia has reportedly withdrawn most of its Black Sea Fleet from occupied Crimea in recent weeks following a series of successful Ukrainian attacks. The retreat of the Russian fleet is a serious setback for Vladimir Putin’s ongoing invasion and the latest indication that Ukraine is winning the Battle of the Black Sea.
Satellite footage from early October indicates that Russian vessels including three Kilo-class submarines, two guided missile frigates, and a patrol ship have all been hastily withdrawn from their home port of Sevastopol in Crimea and moved to the Russian port of Novorossiysk on the eastern coast of the Black Sea, according to the Wall Street Journal. Additional Russian warships have been removed from Sevastopol and sent to other ports in the far west of Crimea or elsewhere in the Black Sea.
It is not hard to see why the order was given to pull out of Sevastopol. Since August 2023, Ukraine has carried out a number of audacious attacks that have undermined Russia’s air defenses in Crimea and inflicted serious damage on the fleet itself, with casualties including a number of large warships and a submarine. On September 22, Ukraine was able to bomb and partially destroy the Black Sea Fleet headquarters in the heart of Sevastopol.
Ukraine’s success in the Battle of the Black Sea is all the more remarkable as the country does not currently have a functioning navy. Instead, Ukraine has relied on daring commando raids along with a combination of domestically produced drones and long-range cruise missiles provided by the country’s Western partners. This limited arsenal has been deployed with the kind of ingenuity that has become the calling card of the Ukrainian military. [Continue reading…]