Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

The Military Situation In The Black Sea

The situation in the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea is direr than the chart at the bottom indicates. I’m hearing of a huge buildup of combat aircraft in the area, as well.  I am attempting to download a Ukraine MOD briefing, showing how Russia is seeking to take control of the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, but the server seems to be overwhelmed. If that’s from excessive downloading or from a Russian cyberattack, I don’t know.  

Somebody just asked my gut assessment.  Here it is.  Russia is constantly seeking ways to play the victim, to justify its aggression.  Currently, the word from Russia is that Ukraine provoked the incident, acting aggressively within the Kerch Straits.  Russia knows their Black Sea Fleet overwhelms the Ukrainian Navy, some of which is trapped in the Sea of Azov. Russia has supposedly massed 500+ combat aircraft in the immediate area east of Ukraine. The saving grace for Ukraine is that the world is solidly backing Ukraine and is focusing on the situation in the Black Sea with every intelligence asset available. Russian aggression in attacking Ukraine would be unjustified in the West’s eyes.  Russia cannot afford a huge invasion of Ukraine, not in the short term and especially not in the long term. The sanctions and legal actions would be massive and crippling to Russia. Therefore, I believe Russia is showing their hand, hoping to show the world that “Look at us. Look at our powerful military. Look what we could do to Ukraine if we wanted. But, we are the victim here and we will show our constraint. Ukraine is only an irritant to us. We are beneficent. We are the good guys.”  

It briefs well but it’s BS. Russia is the aggressor and heavy sanctions and legal actions are deserved as a result of Russian action in the Kerch Straits. There is no justification for firing on Ukrainian vessels, wounding Ukrainian sailors, and ramming Ukrainian ships. Now Russia is holding at least three sailors hostage by evacuating them to Moscow for ‘medical treatment’.  These are not the actions of a peaceful country. No way, no how.

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The Military Imbalance In The Black Sea

by ,

On Sunday morning, three Ukrainian Navy ships, the gunboats Berdyansk and Nikopol and Yani Kapu tug, attempted to sail from the Black Sea port of Odessa to Mariupol in the Sea of Azov. The vessels were blocked at the Kerch Strait by a tanker placed under the Kerch bridge – the only access to the Sea of Azov. The tug was rammed and all three vessels were subsequently seized by the Russians and taken to the port in Kerch.

Russia claims the three ships entered its waters illegally while Ukraine says they were hit and disabled, injuring six crewmembers as they attempted to leave the area. The Ukrainians also say they informed Russia about their plans in advance and that the seizure of its vessels represents “another act of armed aggression” by its neighbor. Russia accused Ukraine of violating legal norms by sending the ships into the area in a “pre-planned provocation”.

As the blame game intensifies and tensions rise, the stakes are getting higher. Russia has escalated the situation by seizing Ukrainian vessels by force and causing casualties. As the following infographic shows, the Ukrainian Navy is in no position to take on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in the event of open hostilities. It only has one frigate, the Hetman Sahaydachniy. It has been plagued by reliability problems and its current status is unclear after it suffered engine problems in May 2017.

Meanwhile the Black Sea fleet boats an armada of well-armed guided missile cruisers, destroyers and frigates. It also has seven diesel attack submarines. The fleet’s flagship, guided missile cruiser Moskva, displaces 12,500 tons fully loaded and is armed with 16 P-500 Bazalt missiles.


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