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Ukrainian Strikes Severely Disrupt Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, With F-16s Expected to Shift the Balance Even More

Ukrainian Strikes Severely Disrupt Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, With F-16s Expected to Shift the Balance Even More
The Russian warship “Muromets” of the Russian Black Sea Fleet sails off the port of Sevastopol. Source: Getty Images

Commander of the Naval Forces of Ukraine, Vice-Admiral Oleksiy Neizhpapa, claims significant success in disrupting Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

According to Neizhpapa, a series of Ukrainian missile and drone strikes have inflicted heavy damage on Sevastopol, the fleet’s main base in occupied Crimea.

This critical hub, responsible for repairs, maintenance, training, and ammunition storage, is reportedly becoming increasingly dysfunctional. Neizhpapa’s statement suggests the strikes have forced Russia to relocate most of its combat-ready warships from Crimea.

“They were established over many decades, possibly centuries. And clearly they are now losing this hub,” he stated in his interview with Reuters, on July 4.

Neizhpapa expressed optimism regarding the delivery of F-16 fighter jets, which he believes, will be a game-changer, enabling Ukraine to contest Russia’s current “full dominance” of the Black Sea airspace.

“F-16s with the right armaments will be able to push away Russian warplanes. The northwestern part of the Black Sea, particularly the corridor for civilian ships, will be almost 100% secure,” he said.

Neizhpapa acknowledged limitations on expanding Ukraine’s shipping corridor beyond the current route serving the three main Odesa ports. In the future, Ukraine would like to include Mykolaiv and Kherson ports, but logistical challenges posed by Russia’s control of the strategically located Kinburn Spit currently prevent this.

Nevertheless, cargo volume has stabilized over the past six months, with Ukraine now efficiently managing two daily vessel convoys compared to just one in 2023.

Despite lacking major warships, Ukraine has devised a strategy to counter Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, deploying explosive-laden, uncrewed naval boats to target Russian vessels directly. Additionally, Ukrainian forces have launched a relentless assault on the fleet’s facilities and other Crimean military targets using Storm Shadow and ATACM missiles.

Beyond strategic bombers and land-based launchers, Russia relies heavily on missile-carrying warships and submarines to execute their long-range missile strikes. Ukrainian Navy Chief, Vice-Admiral Oleksiy Neizhpapa, claims significant success in disrupting these capabilities.

He stated that Ukrainian attacks, including drone-laid sea mines near the Bay of Sevastopol, have destroyed or damaged 27 naval vessels, with five confirmed warship losses. Additionally, naval drone strikes, have pushed Russian warships out of a vast northwestern Black Sea region, encompassing nearly 25,000 square kilometers (9,650 square miles).

Leveraging successful operations in the Black Sea, Ukraine has secured its own shipping corridor, severing dependence on Russian approval.

Before February 2022, Russian-occupied Crimea served as a powerful Black Sea Fleet base with dozens of warships, enabling them to project military influence across the Mediterranean and Middle East.

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