Black Sea Fleet Commander Fired After Losses

Despite Kyiv’s weak naval force, Russia has suffered severe casualties to its Black Sea Fleet, which is located on the Crimean peninsula, at the hands of Ukraine since February 2022. Despite the recent westward advance of Russian forces across the Ukrainian territory, Ukraine has continued to be successful in hitting Russian assets of great value in the Black Sea.

According to a recent assessment, Russia most certainly fired its commander of the Black Sea Fleet due to significant losses sustained in recent weeks, just after Ukraine dramatically targeted one of Moscow’s patrol ships within Russian territory.

The GUR, the military intelligence agency of Ukraine, released footage early on Tuesday that seemed to show the Russian patrol ship Project 22160, the Sergei Kotov, being struck by domestic Magura V5 aquatic drones. According to Kyiv, the boat was close to the Kerch Strait; local authorities indicated the Kerch Bridge was closed overnight.

Twenty-seven crew members were hurt, and seven Russian seamen perished, Kyiv said in a statement on Wednesday.

In February, Russian missile-armed corvette Ivanovets was destroyed by Ukrainian naval drones. Since then, they have successfully assaulted a few of Russia’s landing ships, notably the Caesar Kunikov. Russia has moved assets to its Novorossiysk base in the Black Sea to the east due to Ukraine’s relentless strikes. Additionally, rumors have it that the Kremlin is preparing to build a new military facility in the port of Ochamchire in Georgia’s separatist province of Abkhazia. This would move Russian naval resources in the Black Sea even farther away from Ukraine’s shores.

The commander of Russia’s air force’s long-range aviation, Sergei Kobylash, and Sokolov were both the subject of an arrest warrant issued on Tuesday by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for alleged war crimes committed between October 2022 and March 2023.

Moscow does not recognize the international court’s ruling that the commanders were accountable for offenses such as “directing attacks at civilian objects.”

Kobylash, born in Odesa, Ukraine, and of Moldovan descent, is in charge of the TU-95 and TU-160 strategic bomber fleet, which regularly launches missiles meant to bombard his former hometown.

Sokolov’s current situation is a little unclear.

Although Ukraine declared him dead in September, Russian state-run media reports that he has subsequently made multiple public appearances. A few pro-Russian military reporters reported in February 2024 that Sokolov had been let go. On Russia’s Ministry of Defense website, he is still identified as an active commander.