Satellite images capture how Russia is shielding its warships in port from threats like Ukraine’s exploding drone boats

Published April 3, 2024
  • Satellite images show Russia has placed barriers at its ports to defend the Black Sea Fleet. 
  • The measures are designed to protect Russian warships from Ukraine’s uncrewed surface vessels.
  • Kyiv has relied on this fleet of exploding drone boats to damage and destroy Moscow’s naval force.

Newly captured satellite imagery shows Russia has put up barriers at a major port to defend its Black Sea Fleet warships from Ukraine’s unrelenting exploding drone boat attacks.

The protective measures at Novorossiysk, a city in western Russia located along the Black Sea, appear to be building on similar efforts in Sevastopol, where Moscow’s naval assets have been targeted by Ukraine throughout the full-scale war.

“Due to an increased risk of Ukrainian strikes in their traditional homeport of Sevastopol, Novorossiysk now serves as a crucial role in sheltering the Black Sea Fleet’s most valuable assets,” Britain’s defense ministry wrote in a Sunday intelligence update.

The UK said it recently identified four barges placed at the entrance of the Novorossiysk port in a bid to “enhance the defenses” of the facility against attacks from Ukrainian uncrewed surface vessels, or USVs.



RELATED: Opinion: What’s left of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet?

Russian President Vladimir Putin tours the Black Sea Fleet in Novorossiysk, Russia, on Sept. 23, 2014. (Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
Published April 3, 2024

Russia’s war against Ukraine is shattering the conventions of warfare in many ways. One of the most illustrative examples is the systematic destruction of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet (BSF) by Ukraine, a country that has virtually no navy of its own.

The Ukrainian military’s use of coastal missile systems, air-launched cruise missiles, and sea and air drones has forced Russia to up its Black Sea port defenses and create a naval base in Russian-occupied Abkhazia.

An early symbol of humiliation was the destruction of the Russian cruiser Moskva, the BSF’s flagship, by Ukrainian Neptune missiles in mid-April 2022. This marked the second time in history that a cruiser-class ship was destroyed in combat since the Argentine ARA General Belgrano was sunk by a British submarine during the Falklands War in 1982.

The Moskva was the only ship in the BSF equipped with anti-aircraft missile systems, meaning it was capable (at least theoretically) of defending not only itself but also an entire naval formation from an air attack. After the Moskva was destroyed, the BSF could no longer operate freely in the northwestern part of the Black Sea, and plans for a naval landing near Odesa were finally put to rest.



RELATED: Is the Russian fleet abandoning Crimea? Ukraine claims to have reduced Black Sea cruise missile threat to one ‘loser’ ship

With Ukraine thought to be plotting how to destroy the crucial Kerch bridge linking Russia and Crimea, questions are being asked about the once-vaunted Russian navy losing control of the Black Sea.

Russian ships are being increasingly hit by Ukrainian drones. Are they leaving Crimea? Pic: Reuters
Published April 2, 2024

Russia’s Black Sea fleet has almost abandoned Crimea, leaving just one “loser” warship capable of firing cruise missiles, Ukraine says.

Kyiv’s forces claim to have sunk a third of Russia’s warships in just over two years of war, in a heavy blow to Moscow’s military capability.

Ukraine does not have a traditional navy – its ships were largely captured during the annexation of Crimea – but its fleet of drone boats has been wreaking havoc.

Ukrainian navy spokesperson Dmytro Pletenchuk told local media that all Russian warships capable of firing cruise missiles have been relocated – “except for one loser who has not fired a single missile yet”.

“There is, of course, some stock of ships remaining, but the most valuable assets are all removed,” he added.

“Our ultimate goal is complete absence of military ships of the so-called Russian Federation in the Azov and Black Sea regions,” he said previously.




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