The Kremlin has, like the “Kyiv Post“ reported that in a significant maritime defeat, almost the entire Black Sea Fleet withdrew from the Sevastopol naval base in occupied Crimea. This comes against the backdrop of repeated and devastating Ukrainian missile and drone attacks on coastal defenses and port infrastructure in recent weeks.
Kiev’s accurate attacks are forcing Russia to take action
In particular, the movement of ships, including missile frigates and missile submarines, to safer ports such as Novorossiysk and Feodosia on the Russian mainland was documented in order to position them beyond the reach of attacks from Kiev. Former Georgian Defense Minister David Kezerashvili highlighted that Ukraine had been extremely successful in targeting the Russian Navy in Crimea, and the Kremlin now felt it had to move the ships.
Significant losses and strategic changes
Subsequent missile attacks on the Sevastopol base, particularly a precision-guided cruise missile attack in September, not only hit warships in dry dock, but also caused significant damage to infrastructure and capabilities of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, according to the Kyiv Post. Another attack took place during a meeting of senior command officers at the fleet headquarters, killing at least 60 Russian personnel and command officers and injuring many others. This illustrates effective tactics by Ukrainian forces, which had a significant impact on the operational and strategic level of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
Plans for a new naval port
In response to these circumstances, Russian authorities, according to the Kyiv Post, are planning to compensate for the loss of capacity in Sevastopol by building a new naval port in Ochamchire, Abkhazia. The region has been de facto independent from Georgia since 1993, after waging a conflict over its independence with strong support from Russian troops and weapons. Kezerashvili warned that moving the Russian fleet to ports bordering Georgia could threaten regional security thousands of kilometers beyond Ukraine’s borders and dangerously expand the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. He called on Western allies, including the European Union, the United States and NATO, to act urgently and quickly to prevent further spread of Russian influence in the region.
Fleet repositioned: new conflict dynamics
The departure from Sevastopol and the repositioning of the fleet could therefore have both strategic changes and a noticeable impact on the dynamics and course of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine by involving new fronts and actors in the conflict.