Status: 26.09.2023, 15:30 p.m.
By: Sandra Käthe
Ukraine reports the death of an important Russian naval leader - but British intelligence does not expect fewer attacks by the fleet.
Kiev/London – Ukraine is stepping up its attacks on occupied Crimea – and has cost Russia the life of one of Putin's leading military commanders, according to the government and military leadership in Kiev. For the Ukrainian fighters, this is a morally significant success before winter. But the Russian Black Sea Fleet, whose headquarters are located in Crimea, is apparently not as weakened as many hope.
For example, in its daily situation report on the Ukraine war on the short message service X (formerly Twitter), the British intelligence service speculated that the fleet was attacked after Friday's attack on its headquarters, but was still operational. However, according to the experts in London, it "almost certainly remains capable of fulfilling its core tasks in the war – attacks with cruise missiles and local security patrols".
Several missiles hit the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea last week. (Symbolic photo) © Sergei Malgavko/imago-images.de
Attack on Crimea: Ukraine reports fatal blow to Putin's naval leadership
According to Ukrainian military experts, Friday's attack does not seem to have been without consequences. For example, the US broadcaster CNN quoted a Ukrainian navy spokesman as saying that although there are currently Russian attacks from the Black Sea area, the maneuvers are comparable to "a chicken walking around without a head".
Thus, the spokesman emphasized that in addition to the allegedly killed naval commander Viktor Sokolov, several experienced officers were also killed in the attack. However, the fleet can only function on the basis of strong leadership. The commanders are the ones who know "how the fleet works, what opportunities it has, how the personnel are managed, and how missions are prepared."
After the loss of this important base, the Black Sea Fleet "has problems controlling its troops at this point in time." However, Russia has not yet confirmed the death of the naval commander. On the contrary, the Ministry of Defense has (allegedly) published new pictures of Sokolov.
The Ukraine war in Crimea: collaborators in Putin's Black Sea fleet?
Ukrainian media such as the Kyiv Post recently reported on indications of espionage in Russia's navy. Important information about the attack came from inside the Black Sea Fleet. The news portal cited information from partisans who claim to have been involved in Friday's attacks. Important indicators for them were Russian soldiers who – angry because the Kremlin still owed them pay – had cooperated with pro-Ukrainian activists in Crimea.
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The fact that the damage caused by the attack on the military center in Sevastopol had "caused more damage" and was "more coordinated" than previous attacks by Ukraine on Crimea was also confirmed by British intelligence in its situation report. Nevertheless, the physical damage is "almost certainly large, but localized."
However, with all further attacks by the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the British military experts consider it possible that the fleet has lost capacity and will not be able to take care of all its tasks at the same time in the future. In addition to patrols and attacks, the main activities of the Russian Navy to date have included the blockade of Ukrainian ports. (Saka with dpa)