Two Russian Warships destroyed by Ukraine.
The Ukrainian forces carried out a missile strike on a Russian naval base in Sevastopol, located in Russian-occupied Crimea. While the exact method of the attack remains uncertain, reports from the Ukrainian Telegram channel Insider UA suggest that aviation might have played a role. The Commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, Mykola Oleshchuk, hinted at this but stopped short of revealing specifics about the weapons used. Given his comments, there’s speculation that either the UK’s Storm Shadow or France’s SCALP long-range missiles might have been involved, as they are the only two known air-launched cruise missiles in Ukraine’s arsenal. However, the vagueness of Oleshchuk’s statement might be a strategic move to keep Russian defense forces in the dark.
Furthermore, it’s known that Ukraine has been developing its own range of long-range cruise missiles, including a version of the R-360 Neptune anti-ship missile and the Korshun and HRIM-2 missiles, modern successors of the Soviet-era Kh-55. Any of these could have been deployed in the attack.
The strike had a significant impact on the Russian Black Sea Fleet, igniting fires across a drydock reportedly holding two warships. If not controlled promptly, the fleet risks losing more of its already dwindling number of large ships, especially with the Bosphorus Strait’s closure that prevents Russia from replacing these assets.
The Black Sea Fleet has faced numerous challenges, including multiple successful attacks by Ukrainian forces on its ships. Among the notable casualties are the Saratov, Moskva, Vasily Bekh, and Olenegorsky Gornyak, with the latter possibly being out of commission for good. In addition to these major losses, the Ukrainian navy has inflicted damage on several Russian patrol boats and landing crafts and reclaimed Ukrainian oil platforms that the Russians had occupied.
Despite the setbacks early in the war, where Ukraine even scuttled its only frigate, the Ukrainian navy remains a formidable force. With a combination of domestically-produced Neptune anti-ship missiles, Western-made Harpoon ASMs, missile-armed TB-2 drones, and drone boats, the Ukrainian navy continues to exert pressure on the Russian Black Sea Fleet, frequently pushing it back. As the Ukrainian forces expand their arsenal, including potentially introducing a new thousand-mile cruise missile and possibly acquiring ballistic rockets from the U.S., the Russian fleet’s challenges are only set to increase. The continued successful strikes on Russian ships underscore the efficiency of Ukrainian intelligence in tracking these vessels.