Ukraine’s successful attacks on the Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF) headquarters in occupied Crimea surely left Vladimir Putin reeling.
Kyiv’s missile strikes on September 20 and 22 on the fleet’s HQs in Sevastopol dealt “severe” physical damage to the Russian Navy’s division, the British Defence Ministry said in an update on the war in Ukraine.
The MoD conceded the damage done to the fleet was “localised” and the fleet will remain capable of fulfilling “its core wartime missions of cruise missile strikes and local security patrols”.
However, the intelligence update read: “It also likely has a degraded ability to defend its assets in port and to conduct routine maintenance.”
The attacks on the fleet’s headquarters were described by the MoD as Kyiv’s “more damaging and more coordinated” than those seen so far in the war, which began after Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year.
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The ongoing battle in the Black Sea, the British MoD also wrote, is forcing Moscow into a “reactive posture”.
The update read: “This is likely forcing Russia into a reactive posture whilst demonstrating that Ukraine’s military can undermine the Kremlin’s symbolic and strategic power projection from its warm water port in occupied Sevastopol.”
Ukraine has in recent weeks launched a number of drone and missile attacks on Crimea, the peninsula occupied by Russia in 2014, and the fleet.
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On September 14, Kyiv said to have attacked two Russian patrol ships and destroyed an air defence system.
A few days prior, the Ukrainian army damaged a Russian submarine and landing ship undergoing repairs on a shipyard in Sevastopol.
And in August, Volodymyr Zelensky’s troops fired three missiles at Kerch Bridge, which connects Crimea to Russia.
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Only days after the second attack on the fleet’s HQ, the Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev, announced the building was being demolished and told locals not to be alarmed by blast noises.
Earlier this week, Ukraine claimed the strike on the headquarters wounded 105 people and killed 34 officers, including the commander of the Black Sea fleet, Admiral Viktor Sokolov.
However, on Tuesday (September 26) the claim regarding Mr Sokolov’s death was thrown into doubt as he was shown on Russian state television taking part in a video conference with Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu and other top admirals and army chiefs.
The admiral did not attend the meeting in person, and was only seen appearing via video link.
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