Weakened on land, Ukraine harasses Russia in the Black Sea

(Paris) Weakened on land in the face of Russia, Ukraine is stepping up its attacks in the Black Sea with the destruction of a significant number of Russian ships. Insufficient to change the course of the war, these successes nonetheless remained valuable, particularly at a time when Western support was faltering.

Currently, any Russian boat sunk or damaged is “a victory on the information level” which allows Kyiv “to eclipse for a time the difficulties” on the land front line, explains to AFP Igor Denaloë, deputy director of the Franco-Russian Observatory, based in Moscow.

“It also allows us to present some results to Western benefactors and donors to show them that it is still worth investing in Ukrainian defense,” he adds.

On Wednesday, the Ukrainian General Staff announced that it had destroyed the Russian landing ship Caesar Kunikov off the coast of Crimea with naval drones, statements that AFP was not able to independently verify.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed Thursday that the Ukrainians had “successfully struck a Russian ship yesterday, which demonstrates,” he added, “the skills of the Ukrainian armed forces.” On Wednesday, he had already reported the “heavy losses” inflicted on the Russian navy in the Black Sea, referring to “a great success” for Ukraine.

On social networks, Ukrainian services released a black and white video showing, according to them, the attack on the building by several drones. In particular, we can see an explosion, then an imposing mushroom of smoke above a warship.

Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesperson, did not want to comment on the Ukrainian claims, and the Russian Defense Ministry also remained silent on the incident, stressing however that it had shot down six Ukrainian drones “over the waters of the black Sea “.

The destruction of the Caesar Kunikov would add to the already well-stocked hunting list of the Ukrainians in the Black Sea, including the attack on the cruiser Moskva, flagship of the Russian fleet sunk in spring 2022, or that of the Novocherkassk, another large ship landing craft struck at the end of 2023 while stationed in Crimea.

“Quite unfavorable dynamics”

This type of attack “has no impact on the balance of power on land, which is characterized by a general dynamic quite unfavorable to Ukraine”, but “it validates the Ukrainian asymmetric confrontation strategy in the Black Sea », points out Igor Delanoë.

In fact, since the start of the conflict, Ukraine has never fought on equal terms with Russia in naval combat.

Ukraine lost “a large part of its Navy during the occupation of Crimea (by Russia in 2014, Editor’s note). This is why they have implemented a strategy of denial of access and area interdiction since the start of the war, using missiles supplied by the West, underwater mines, but also and above all drones. naval systems developed by the Ukrainians to be used during kamikaze attacks, Tayfun Ozberk, naval analyst and former Turkish navy officer, explains to AFP.

The drones, “improved” and with “increased” range, are now “capable of hitting Russian ships almost anywhere in the Black Sea”, including in Russian ports far from the Ukrainian coast, adds this expert, for whom the Russian losses , without major impact on land combat, have a “psychological” cost for Moscow.

These operations above all allow Kyiv to present some victories, when the Western camp seems divided in its support for Ukraine. This is demonstrated by the inability of the American Congress to release new aid, in the context of a possible return of Donald Trump to the White House, which places increased responsibility on the Europeans.

“Extraordinary failure”

At the start of its invasion of Ukraine, Russia notably sought to use its naval power in the Black Sea, launching missiles against land targets and threatening the Ukrainian coastline with an amphibious invasion, to strangle vital maritime trade. ‘Ukraine.

But Russia is no longer able to “prevent Ukrainian trade”, as evidenced by “cereal shipments returning to their pre-invasion level”, points out Phillips O’Brien. “It is an extraordinary failure for the Russians to lose the ability to control Ukrainian trade,” says this professor of strategic studies at St Andrews University in Scotland.

“As for the defensive plan, the areas where they can operate safely are restricted. There are fewer opportunities to bombard Ukraine with missiles. They lost landing ships which are important from a logistical point of view (…) making the supply of Crimea more difficult,” he emphasizes.

In the longer term, “this could affect the Russian perception of Crimea as a crucial territory that cannot be lost”, notes Dumitru Minzarari, researcher at the Baltic Defense College, based in Estonia, one of Kyiv’s objectives being according to him in particular to “try to shake Russia’s determination”

reference: www.lapresse.ca

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