Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Ukraine Strikes Back! Russia’s Key Naval Base & Oil Terminal Comes Under Attack; Maritime Drones Prime Suspect

After attacking the Crimean port of Sevastopol in late October, Ukrainian maritime drones could be back in action. A drone believed to be deployed by Ukraine made a comeback on November 18 and allegedly attacked the Russian Naval Base of Novorossiysk.

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Russian media was abuzz with unverified footage of what appeared to be a maritime suicide drone attack on Sheskharis Harbor in Russia’s Black Sea port of Novorossiysk.

The video was caught on the CCTV installed in the harbor. Novorossiysk is a significant Russian naval base and oil terminal.

Even though the clip did not reveal precisely which maritime drone was used to carry out the attack, military experts said it looked similar to the one used to attack Sevastopol last month.

At the end of October, low-slung drone boats with a claimed range of roughly 500 miles were used by Ukraine in an unprecedented strike on the Russian Navy’s base in Sevastopol.

The attack triggered an explosion at the time, and Russia accused the UK of providing Ukraine with these maritime drone boats, calling it a “terrorist attack.”

The timing of the attack is significant as Russia has gone on a rampage to destroy Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, which it considers “military targets.” On November 18, several parts of the embattled country were without power owing to a barrage of missiles hitting targets regularly.

Ukraine has claimed that the previous maritime drone attack damaged three Russian vessels, a claim Russia has dismissed. Nevertheless, they have had a chilling effect on Russian Black Sea Fleet operations in Sevastopol and Crimea, where the fleet is based.

Ukrainian USVs – UNITED24

Not just that, according to recent reports, the Russia-appointed governor of Crimea announced that “fortification work is being carried out on the territory of Crimea under my control to guarantee the security of all Crimean people.”

It is pertinent to note that Crimea and the Black Sea were used as a launch pad for attacks in the initial days of the invasion. However, Ukraine is increasingly attacking the regions now. With the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) retaking Kherson, Russia’s position could become more fragile.

On Russia’s Black Sea coast, Novorossiysk is a significant naval base and oil terminal. It is farther from the Ukrainian-held territory of Odesa than it is from Sevastopol.

Just as the Russians believed that the Crimean Bridge was far from Ukraine’s reach until it came under attack, it was also previously thought that Novorossiysk was beyond the reach of Ukrainian strikes.

Russian Black Sea Under Attack?

With increasing attacks, the ports that provided safe harbor for Russian maritime activity now face a direct threat of attack from the sea.

In the absence of very long-range rocket launch vehicles, maritime drones are the long-range weaponry of choice to hit targets deep inside Russian territory.

After the attack on Sevastopol in October, the Russian Navy has barely left port, even though Moscow used its naval vessels to carry out missile attacks in the early months of the invasion.

The Russian Navy, therefore, seems to be aware of the dangers of the maritime drones that Ukraine is amassing and operating.

The naval base is home to several warships and submarines deployed against Ukraine, including the Kilo Class submarines that can launch Kalibr cruise missiles on Ukraine.

According to the OSINT and Naval Analyst HI Sutton, several sizable landing ships also sailed to the Black Sea in preparation for the invasion. Many of the vessels were in port, according to recent radar data.

While Ukraine did not take responsibility for the attack, some Russian sources said the maritime drone belonged to AFU. Some reports also claimed that Russian specialists examined the drone’s wreckage and said it was the same model used to attack Sevastopol. However, EurAsian Times could not independently verify these claims.

The situation could become more precarious for Russia now that Ukraine has decided to create the world’s first fleet of naval drones. On November 11, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky launched the UNITED24 project to fund the ambitious naval drone plan.

The Twitter account of the fundraising website tweeted a video with the message, “Ukraine is creating the world’s first Fleet of Naval Drones — so, we are launching our biggest fundraiser yet. It will protect the Ukrainian waters, prevent cities from being struck by missiles, and help unlock corridors for civilian ships transporting grain.”

Moreover, Vice Admiral Oleksiy Neizhpapa, Commander of the Ukrainian Navy’s Naval Forces, claimed that these naval drones have already shown themselves to be effective and have the capacity to change the course of events in the Black Sea.

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