Russian Black Sea Fleet forced to change tack after Ukraine destroyed ship


Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has been forced to change tack after Ukrainian naval drones destroyed its missile-armed corvette Ivanovets near annexed Crimea earlier this month, a Kyiv official has said.

Dmitry Pletenchuk, the spokesman of the Ukrainian navy, said on national television on Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s prized fleet was now shifting its focus, from carrying out combat operations against Ukraine to focusing on protecting and defending its base points, training its sailors and overseeing civilian shipping, Ukrainian news outlet NV reported.

“The Russians spent several days thinking about and analyzing the incident with their missile boat Ivanovets,” Pletenchuk said. “Even the training process was suspended, which is already a non-standard decision for the Black Sea Fleet.”

The Ivanovets was sunk by Ukrainian naval drones on February 1. Ukraine released footage that showed a “trap” its forces set for the Ivanovets during a nighttime operation.

A French marine observes the Romanian navy frigate Regele Ferdinand from an airplane window over the Black Sea during military exercise off Constanta, Romania, on March 30, 2023. The Russian Black Sea Fleet’s Ivanovets was…


DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images

It was the 26th Russian ship successfully struck by Ukraine since the war began in February 2022, according to independent Russian news outlet The Insider.

Ukraine has targeted the Black Sea Fleet throughout the war as it seeks to reverse Putin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, which serves as Moscow’s central logistics hub for its forces in southern Ukraine. Its flagship, Moskva, was attacked and sunk in April 2022. In September 2023, a missile attack by Ukraine on the Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Sevastopol reportedly killed several leading officers and destroyed a Russian submarine.

Newsweek has contacted Russia’s Defense Ministry for comment by email.

The Ukrainian navy spokesman Pletenchuk said Russia is now deploying its Black Sea Fleet vessels “primarily for security reasons” and is “transferring vessels to other ports, including Tuapse and Sochi.”

In October, satellite images showed that Russia’s Black Sea Fleet was leaving the port of Sevastopol in Crimea for Novorossiysk in Krasnodar Krai in southern Russia and the Russian naval port in Feodosia on the annexed peninsula, amid a spate of attacks by Ukraine.

Russia frigates Admiral Essen and Admiral Makarov, three diesel submarines, five large landing ships, several small missile ships, one large landing craft, minesweepers and other small ships were relocated from Sevastopol, the images showed.

The Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), a U.S. think tank, assessed on February 7 that the Black Sea Fleet has adapted its posture throughout the war in Ukraine to serve a conflict of attrition.

Russia’s supremacy on the Black Sea was contested in the early stage of the conflict by Ukraine’s anti-surface and drone capacities, which created a form of “sea denial,” the analysis said.

“The scope of the missions fulfilled by the Black Sea Fleet has increased over time to include more protection and detection tasks, while active defense remains the general posture at sea,” the think tank added.

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