In a recent turn of events, British Storm Shadow missiles played a pivotal role in Ukraine’s audacious attack on the Russian fleet stationed in Sevastopol. This daring move resulted in the destruction of a Russian submarine, and a large landing ship, and crippling damage to a vital dry dock.
The Pre-Dawn Raid
The meticulously planned attack on Sevastopol commenced with a series of commando operations targeting radar and missile installations. Simultaneously, air strikes were conducted to suppress the formidable defenses surrounding Crimea’s strategic city. Notably, this operation neutralized Russia’s highly-regarded S400 air defense system.
Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, Chief of the Defense Staff, stated, “Russia’s air defense equipment failed,” highlighting the astonishing turn of events where Ukraine, a nation with a limited naval presence, is now on the verge of dismantling Russia’s Black Sea fleet. It’s worth noting that a year ago, such an outcome seemed implausible.
The Russian Response
Initially, Russian authorities claimed to have successfully intercepted all cruise missiles, aerial drones, and sea drones. However, subsequent reports revealed the truth – two vessels in the dry dock were obliterated, and the port was engulfed in flames. The incident resulted in 24 reported injuries and extensive damage across the old city, as reported by eyewitnesses.
A Turning Point in the Conflict
This attack marks a significant turning point in the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict. It’s reminiscent of the early days of the war when Ukrainian forces used modified land missiles to sink the Moskva, the flagship of the Black Sea fleet. The destruction of the Kilo-class submarine Rostov-on-Don, only the second such incident since 1945, is a testament to Ukraine’s growing military prowess.
The large landing ship, Minsk, designed for major amphibious operations, met a similar fate. Russian forces had initially attempted landings west of Kherson to threaten Odesa and Mykolaiv, but Minsk’s sister ship, Olenegorsky Gornyak, was destroyed last month by naval drones in Novorossiysk Bay.
Ukraine’s Strategic Approach
Ukraine’s strategy to undermine Russian occupation in Crimea is steadily gaining momentum. The attack on Sevastopol was executed through a combination of reconnaissance raids, a highly successful commando operation against an S400 radar facility, and the utilization of radar and communication-suppressing missiles and rockets.
The Broader Implications
The risk of the Black Sea conflict escalating into a full-blown international war remains a concern, especially in light of recent leaks about a Russian Su-27 fighter’s attempt to shoot down an RAF Rivet Joint surveillance aircraft in international airspace over the Black Sea. While the fighter fired one missile that missed and another malfunctioned, the incident underscores the volatility of the region.
Surveillance Operations and NATO’s Role
The RAF’s Rivet Joint patrols are part of a broader surveillance effort by NATO in international airspace over the Black Sea, Baltic, and Arctic. This surveillance includes E3 electronic warfare planes and F35 Lightnings on round-the-clock patrols. As the situation unfolds, the Black Sea continues to be a crucial theater in Ukraine’s summer offensive.
A Message to Critics
General Sir Patrick Sanders, speaking at the Expo forum, criticized unwarranted negative remarks by “armchair critics and generals.” He emphasized that while the Ukrainians are effectively engaging Russian forces, the conflict won’t end with a single knockout blow but rather through sustained efforts.
Targeting Rear Logistics
Long-range rockets, artillery, and cruise missiles like the UK’s Storm Shadow and the French equivalent Scalp are beginning to impact the depth battle. Recent intelligence reports indicate that a single strike resulted in the destruction of 4,500 tons of artillery ammunition, underscoring the growing effectiveness of these weapons.
Blame and Humanitarian Efforts
Sergei Shoigou, the Russian Defense Minister, has blamed Britain and America, along with UK-trained forces and equipment, for the bombing of Sevastopol. Efforts are ongoing to resume the Black Sea Grain Initiative, allowing Ukrainian grain to support humanitarian aid efforts in Africa.
In conclusion, the attack on Sevastopol marks a significant development in the Ukraine-Russia conflict, demonstrating Ukraine’s increasing military capabilities and the evolving dynamics in the region.