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Boyko Towers under control: What are they, where are they located, and why are they important for Ukraine

Boyko Towers under control: What are they, where are they located, and why are they important for Ukraine Photo: Ukraine regained control over the Boyko Towers (UNIAN)

Ukraine has regained control over the so-called Boyko Towers in the Black Sea. In military intelligence, this operation is referred to as another blow to the enemy.

Read more details about the Boyko Towers, their location, and why it is important to regain control over them in the RBC-Ukraine article.

Special operation of Defense Intelligence

Today, video footage of the special operation has been appeared online. The footage shows soldiers approaching the towers on rubber boats, clearing the objects, engaging in combat with Russian aircraft, and rescuing a soldier with the call sign "Konan," who fell overboard and spent 14 hours in the open sea.

As a result of the operation, Ukrainian control was restored over the Petro Hodovanets and Ukraine drilling platforms as well as the Tavryda and Syvash self-elevating drilling rigs. During one of the operation phases, a Russian Su-30 fighter attempted to attack the special forces but sustained damage and retreated.

Valuable trophies were captured on the towers themselves, including a stockpile of unguided aviation rockets for helicopters and a Neva radar station, which tracks the movement of ships in the Black Sea.

What are the Boyko Towers and why are they called so

The drilling platforms B312 (Petro Hodovanets) and B319 (Ukraine) owned by the Chornomornaftogaz company are located near the shores of Crimea. After the occupation of the peninsula, they were seized by the Russian Federation.

Ukraine purchased them for natural gas extraction. In 2011, the Chornomornaftogaz company bought the first one directly from the manufacturer, Keppel (Singapore), but through a British intermediary, Highway Investments Processing, paying $400 million more than the actual price. The second platform was also purchased through an intermediary.

After corrupt schemes were discovered in the overpriced purchases, they became known in the media as the Boyko Towers, named after Yurii Boyko who was then Minister of Energy.

Boyko Towers under control: What are they, where are they located, and why are they important for Ukraine

Photo: Ukrainian intelligence on the Boyko Towers (

In the summer of 2014, the Prosecutor General's Office initiated a case on the embezzlement of $400 million of state funds under the guise of purchasing drilling towers. The violations were classified under Article 191, Part 5 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (misappropriation of property on an especially large scale or by an organized group).

According to the case materials, there were significant breaches of tender procedures during the purchase. Yurii Boyko himself testified as a witness in 2015, and another case was opened the same year. This time, it involved the misappropriation of $60 million for the purchase of tugboats for transporting the towers.

Many names were implicated in the scheme, including President Viktor Yanukovych, former Deputy Head of the National Bank of Ukraine Sergiy Arbuzov, former Naftogaz Chairman Yevhen Bakulin, his deputy Yevhen Korniychuk, and officials from Chornomornaftogaz. There doesn't seem to be a clear final, as most of those involved have long left Ukraine.

How Russia captured the towers

Russian forces seized the Boyko Towers in March 2014. According to journalistic investigations, the capture involved paratroopers from the 104th Airborne Assault Regiment of the Russian Airborne Forces.

In the fall of 2015, the occupiers turned off the transponders - the AIS ship identification system that transmits dimensions, course, and other data to radio broadcasts. In December, the captured towers were towed to the Holytsynske field near the coast of Crimea, escorted by missile and patrol boats.

At that time, the Ukrainian Navy ships Pereyaslav and Netishyn entered this area. Russian border patrol ships and missile boats blocked their path, showing readiness to attack. Ukrainian vessels received orders to retreat.

Boyko Towers under control: What are they, where are they located, and why are they important for UkrainePhoto: Russians used Boyko Towers as military facilities (

In January 2017, Russians fired at the Pochaiv diving support vessel from one of the drilling towers. In February, a Ukrainian transport plane, An-26, was shot at while in Ukraine's exclusive economic zone.

As of March 2020, Ukrainian authorities noted activity on the towers. Russian flags were raised at both facilities, and there were signs of ongoing industrial activity.

Approximately 50 Russian military personnel were stationed on the captured platforms. The Russian side used the towers for military purposes, including as radio and radar observation posts.

They were expected to serve as a base for reconnaissance and sabotage groups and a refueling point for helicopters. Each of the four structures had Russian electronic reconnaissance and warfare equipment, allowing the Russian military to control the area in the northeastern part of the Black Sea between Crimea and Odesa.

Where are the Boyko Towers located, and why are they important for Ukraine

Until 2015, these towers were situated in Ukrainian territorial waters near Zmiinyi (Snake) Island and approximately 100 kilometers from Odesa. However, the Russians later towed them closer to Cape Tarkhankut on the Crimean coast.

Boyko Towers under control: What are they, where are they located, and why are they important for UkrainePhoto: Russians towed the Boyko Towers closer to Crimea (

During Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in June 2022, they were targeted with missile strikes. The Minister of Defense, Oleksii Reznikov, stated that the Russians not only stole Ukrainian gas from the towers but also deployed electronic warfare stations on them.

"The Russians used them to shield their ships, hiding behind them so that our Neptune (missile) couldn't reach them with its targeting systems. It happened because someone carelessly smoked on those towers, and now they are no longer in use," he noted.

In mid-August 2023, a military confrontation occurred near the drilling platforms involving Ukrainian forces on four boats and a Russian Su-30 fighter. The incident was recorded by Ukrainian drones. Today, military intelligence has confirmed that it was a special operation to regain control over these objects.

As specified by the Defense Intelligence, regaining control has strategic importance for Ukraine. Firstly, Russia will no longer be able to use the Boyko Towers for military purposes. Secondly, it has lost its reconnaissance equipment on the towers. And thirdly, Ukraine now has the ability to control the Black Sea waters.

Military intelligence emphasizes that it brings Ukraine a few steps closer to reclaiming Crimea.