Status: 02.10.2023, 04:45 a.m.
By: Jens Kiffmeier
Despite inferiority, Ukraine's counteroffensive is inflicting heavy losses on Russia's Black Sea Fleet – thanks to drone innovations. Weapons aid is coming from Germany.
Sevastopol – They are small, maneuverable and carry a deadly cargo: Ukraine's surface drones. In the counteroffensive against Russia's war of aggression, the kamikaze boats play an increasingly important role. With spectacular special operations, the Ukrainian naval unit has inflicted heavy losses on President Vladimir Putin's invading troops in Crimea and broken the superiority of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. In view of the successes in the counteroffensive, the maritime drone unit is to be further upgraded – apparently also with help from Germany.
Ukraine news on the counteroffensive: Drones from Germany to inflict losses on Russia
To support the counteroffensive against Russia's Black Sea Fleet, the German government is said to have assured Ukraine of the delivery of sea drones. This is reported by the news magazine Forbes, citing a written statement from NATO. According to the report, the Ministry of Defense of Boris Pistorius (SPD) offered Ukraine a new 400 million weapons package at the last donor conference in Ramstein. In addition to anti-aircraft missiles and artillery ammunition, "50 surface drones will help to push back the attacker not only on land, but also at sea," the US newspaper quotes State Secretary Siemtje Möller.
Has trouble with attacks from homemade kamikaze boats: Russian President Vladimir Putin. © Itar-Tass/Ministry of Defense/Russia/Screenshot/Imago/Montage
The project is to be implemented partly from Bundeswehr stocks and with the help of the German arms industry – and as "quickly as possible". But what fast means in this case is unclear. This is because the Bundeswehr itself is currently unable to fall back on huge stocks. In 2016, the German Navy acquired its first drone boat, the ARCIMS USV, from Atlas Electronik, which is designed to help with mine detection operations. By 2035, large investments are planned to build a small fleet. In contrast to its NATO partner USA, however, the Bundeswehr relies less on unmanned kamikaze drones, but rather on larger support boats for the frigates. Until the Ukraine war, kamikaze drones were considered less useful in Western armies.
Drones from Germany: Bundeswehr assures Ukraine of ten boats
It is unclear to what extent the Bundeswehr will change course in its planning. At the request of merkur.de of IPPEN. MEDIA refers the Ministry of Defense to a list of intended support services for Ukraine. According to the paper, ten surface drones are noted – and not 50. However, no information will be given on the exact delivery dates, a spokeswoman said. According to the information, however, the Pistorius ministry provides funds to industry, which then implements the procurement.
But one thing is already certain: surface and underwater drones are becoming increasingly important in the Ukraine war. This is clearly shown by the developments in the counteroffensive. Ukraine itself no longer has any fleets. Instead, a newly formed naval special unit relies on homemade drone boats, also known as USVs (Uncrewed Surface Vessels). A total of six models, most of which were developed by Ukrainian inventors themselves, are now in use – and with growing success.
Losses in Ukraine war: Black Sea Fleet in Crimea is powerless against kamikaze drones
The kamikaze boats, loaded with explosives, race towards their target and then explode with their deadly cargo. Earlier this month, these drone boats hit four Russian ships in three days. While Russia was still able to position its frigates on the Black Sea largely undisturbed at the beginning of the Ukraine war in order to fire dangerous medium-range missiles at the Ukrainian mainland from all points, Putin's army has now had to withdraw a large part of the fleet and entrench it in the Crimean ports.
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But even here they are not safe, as evidenced by the losses after the attacks on the naval headquarters in Sevastopol. There, Ukraine also pulled off a drone coup in which a landing ship and two submarines were destroyed – apparently because the Crimean partisans had bribed Russian officers. In the meantime, there was also speculation that Putin's fleet general Viktor Sokolov could have been killed.
Breakthrough in the Ukraine war: Crimean offensive on Putin's army to shift the course of the front
In any case, the attacks with the surface drones are difficult for Russia to defend. That is why Ukraine has high hopes for the attacks. Because Russia is more and more forced to withdraw its fleet and bring it to safety. The effect: fewer missiles are flying at the ground troops, which are trying to break through the defensive wall in eastern Ukraine and shift the course of the front. (jkf)