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Russia restricts Black Sea fleet maneuvers due to drone threat - UK Intelligence

Russia restricts Black Sea fleet maneuvers due to drone threat - UK Intelligence Photo: The Black Sea Fleet wants to remain surface-based (Getty Images)
Author: Liliana Oleniak

The Russian military is looking for ways to keep the fleet in the Black Sea. Ship operations have been limited and drone defenses have been stepped up, according to the UK Ministry of Defense.

Ukraine's success in conducting an ongoing asymmetric naval strike campaign led to a visit by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to the Black Sea Fleet (BSF) command post in Crimea on March 17, 2024.

Shoigu received an update on Ukrainian operations and discussed the effectiveness of the naval forces. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, he announced new measures for the BSF units to reduce the threat from unmanned aerial vehicles and unmanned surface vehicles.

According to UK intelligence, special attention was paid to conducting daily drills to ensure readiness for drone warfare to enable ship crews to quickly repel attacks day and night. Shoigu also ordered that unidentified targets be equipped with additional large-caliber weapons to strengthen their defense.

"The Russian Navy has highly likely resorted to limiting its operations to the eastern Black Sea as its losses mount, and its threat perceptions increase. With Ukraine continuing to seek out opportunities to strike at distance, the Russian Ministry of Defence has been prompted to increase its efforts to preserve its fleet in the Black Sea," the UK Ministry of Defense says.

Russian warships elimination

On the night of March 4-5, a special unit of the Ukrainian Defense Intelligence Agency Group 13 near the Kerch Strait attacked the Black Sea Fleet patrol ship Sergei Kotov. As a result of the attack by Magura V5 maritime drones, the ship was eliminated. This is the third Russian Black Sea Fleet vessel to sink in the last five weeks.

Following a series of significant losses of Russian ships in the Black Sea, on March 10, Russian Navy Chief Admiral Nikolai Evmenov was dismissed and replaced by Northern Fleet Commander Admiral Alexander Moiseev.

In February, Admiral Viktor Sokolov, the commander of the Black Sea Fleet, was dismissed due to losses.