Russia’s Black Sea Fleet ‘functionally inactive’ after Ukrainian strikes


The Russian Black Sea Fleet has been left “functionally inactive” following a series of Ukrainian missile strikes, Grant Shapps, the Defence Secretary, has said.

Kyiv forces on Sunday destroyed two large Russian warships, the Yamal and the Azov, in the Black Sea along with other navy facilities.

The destruction of the landing ships, which each cost an estimated £170 million to replace, is the latest bruising loss to Moscow’s fleet which has been virtually chased off the Crimean peninsula following repeated Ukrainian attacks.

”Putin’s continued illegal occupation of Ukraine is exacting a massive cost on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet which is now functionally inactive,” said Mr Shapps. “Russia has sailed the Black Sea since 1783 but is now forced to constrain [its] fleet to port. And even there Putin’s ships are sinking!”

A Ukrainian military spokesman confirmed: “The defence forces have successfully hit the Yamal and Azov landing ships, a communications centre and several infrastructure facilities belonging to the Russian Black Sea Fleet.”

The Yamal carries 98 crew members and is actively used in the fleet's exercises and training

The Yamal carries 98 crew members and is actively used in the fleet’s exercises and training – Yoruk Isik/REUTERS

The Yamal, which was moored at Sevastopol, is in a “critical” condition, according to Ukrainian military intelligence reports, with a hole in the upper deck causing the ship to list starboard and take on water.

Mikhail Razvozhaev, a Russian-installed Sevastopol official, called the attack “the most massive” in recent time, claiming more than 10 missiles were shot down over the Black Sea port.

Storm Shadow missiles were reportedly used in the attack, which the UK has supplied to Kyiv since May 2023.

The Yamal and the Azov, which carry 98 and 87 crew members respectively, belong to the 197th Landing Ships Brigade of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and are actively used in the fleet’s exercises and training, according to the fleet’s website.

Damage to them means only three Ropucha-class landing ships remained in service in Russia’s Black Sea Fleet out of a previous total of 13, following the sinking of the Caesar Kunikov in February.

The incident comes the week after Moscow dismissed the head of its navy, replacing Nikolai Yevmenov with Admiral Alexander Moiseev in a move widely reported to have been triggered by the loss of a string of vessels following Ukrainian drone attacks.

Russia has lost nearly a quarter of its Black Sea Fleet since the February 2022 invasion. As a result, the Kremlin has relocated some of its ships from Crimea to its Novorossiysk base in Russia’s Krasnodar region, further from Ukraine’s coastline, hampering its ability to operate in the western part of the Black Sea, the Institute for the Study of War reported.



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