Russian fleet was well prepared for a major battle with the West

The special operation in Ukraine has been going on for a month. Information is being spread about the Russian army and pilots, the landing on Gostomel, the battles of the militia and special forces in Mariupol. The role of the Navy remains behind the scenes – and completely in vain. What battles was the Russian squadron preparing for in the Mediterranean and how does it affect the ongoing operation right now?

Russian fleet was well prepared for a major battle with the West

The Russian fleet began its deployment long before the start of the operation. Having somewhat scared NATO off Ireland and the British coast, the ships went to the Mediterranean Sea, to join the Navy formation in the Mediterranean Sea. There also came a detachment of ships from the Pacific Ocean. By the twentieth of February, Russia had two missile cruisers in the region – Marshal Ustinov and Varyag (Moscow remained in the Black Sea), the Admiral Kasatonov frigate, two BODs, a number of weaker ships and several diesel submarines with “Calibers”.

Containment in the Mediterranean

NATO could not remain indifferent. To meet our rather large forces, they brought out as many as three aircraft carrier groups, including one American. For some time, our fleet operated in several detachments – while the detachment of the Northern Fleet, led by Ustinov, maneuvered south of Sicily, the Pacific Ocean, together with the Mediterranean group, formed a powerful “fist” in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, not far from Syria. NATO ship groups, however, kept out of range of our missile systems, and hitting them would require serious efforts.

A few days before the operation, a number of Russian ships passed through the straits to the north, into the Black Sea. But the backbone of the group remained in the Mediterranean Sea, in case of some kind of inadequacy on the part of the United States and NATO. If suddenly the escalation of the conflict led to an attempt by the West to intervene, then the ships of the West would not be able to enter the Black Sea so easily, they would first have to endure the battle with the Russian fleet and aircraft from Khmeimim. In such a battle, the West would have superior forces, but the price of any success for the US and NATO would be very high, and the scale of operations that would be required to defeat Russian forces in the region would be simply enormous.

The West did not dare. Both before the operation and after it began, NATO fleets behave emphatically non-aggressively.

On the night of February 23-24, all the ships of the Russian group gathered together east of Crete. If it were necessary to accept the battle, it would be better to do it with combined forces, having Khmeimim in the rear. And then there was the President’s speech, that very thing.

Rocket strikes

In the early morning of February 24th, an audio recording of the radio exchange of the Black Sea Fleet in Russian spread like wildfire in Western military-analytical networks and publics. Numerical designations from the table of conditional voice signals, coded call signs and the question: “who else worked?”. This went beyond what was the norm in peacetime and it became clear that something was happening.

The President at about this time announced the start of a special military operation. And a few minutes after the broadcast of his speech ended, the first “Caliber” entered the Ukrainian airspace.

Despite the fact that aviation was used very limitedly in the first strike, the damage to Ukrainian air defense was simply fatal. Ukraine has only scraps of air defense left, which will have a very short life and which will no longer have a serious impact on the course of hostilities.

A similar decisive effect was achieved when hitting headquarters and command centers. Attentive observers can see that Ukraine has completely “zeroed out” the operational level in the actions of its troops.

The Ukrainian troops are simply resisting at the place where they are, there is no unified command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, what is usually called the word “operation” of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is not carried out in principle. And it’s not just that. This is the result of a missile attack on headquarters.

And the role of the fleet in the success of this strike was considerable. Yes, not only “Caliber” were used in the first wave of cruise and operational-tactical missiles used against the Armed Forces of Ukraine, but “Caliber” due to their number in the volley were of great importance. The Caspian flotilla also participated in the strikes, having recorded in its history another military operation after Syria. In the future, the importance of the fleet in delivering missile strikes did not decrease. It is preserved even now.

Capture of Serpent’s Island and the threat of amphibious assault

On the very first day, Russian ships appeared near the only Ukrainian island in the Black Sea, Snake Island, including the Moskva missile cruiser. It cannot be said that the Island was somehow strategically important, but it was not unimportant either.

Anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles could be placed on this island. It could create a support base for Ukrainian missile and artillery boats, a stock of mines that could then be placed from high-speed boats. In general, there could be many problems. Romania could also capture the island, de facto annexing it and equipping it with all of the above, but already under the protection of NATO.

This did not happen, the Russian Navy occupied the island. First, Russian ships demanded that Ukrainian border guards surrender. Then, when the latter refused, a blow was struck on the island, presumably from the Su-24M naval aviation. And when the Ukrainian border guards raised their heads, they found that Russian soldiers had already landed on the pier from boats. The Serpent’s garrison surrendered.

The story of the island also includes the episode voiced by Major General Igor Konashenkov with the attack of Ukrainian boats against the ships of the Navy near Seprent’s Island. The attack was repulsed, as indicated, the Ukrainian boats were destroyed. If so, then we are talking about the first naval battle that was won by our Navy since the battle near Nerva Island on the night of June 19-20, 1944.

A serious success of the Navy was also a demonstration of forces, regularly and still undertaken by a detachment of landing ships operating in the Black Sea. The regular demonstration of readiness for landing by the Navy delays Ukrainian troops in Odessa, preventing them from being transferred to another area, for example, near Nikolaev. The benefits of this can hardly be overestimated. In fact, here we are talking about what the Anglo-Saxons call fleet in beeing – the effect of presence, when the fleet has a considerable influence on the course of hostilities by the very fact of its existence.

Recently, Navy ships have been moving with minesweepers, which is very similar to preparing for a real landing, because the enemy, if he is competent, will defend himself with minefields.

The enemy and his actions

From the very beginning, it was clear that the Ukrainian Naval Forces had a certain potential to harm Russia. Fortunately, these risks were not ignored, and strong blows were dealt to the bases of the Ukrainian Navy at the very beginning of the operation, both by missile weapons and by aircraft.

The losses of the Ukrainian Navy in the bases were significant, although their list has not yet been reliably determined. So, it is known for sure that the boat “Slavyansk”, received as a gift from the United States, was destroyed with losses in people from the Ukrainian Navy. In general, most of the Ukrainian ships were destroyed in the bases, only the detachment destroyed at Zmeiny was able to go to sea.

In order to prevent their flagship Hetman Sagaidachny from falling into the hands of the Russian Armed Forces, the Ukrainians themselves flooded it in Nikolaev. The boats that were stationed in Berdyansk never went to sea. At the same time, the Ukrainians blew up something in the port of Mariupol, perhaps also their boats. Now the captured boats have been transferred to Novorossiysk.

The base in Ochakovo, which promised to be a problem after the deployment of sabotage forces on it, was destroyed in the first hours of the operation, and the personnel, apparently, perish in battles as a simple infantry. In this sense, the demilitarization of the Ukrainian Navy turned out to be complete – the Ukrainian fleet has been destroyed. As Colonel-General Sergei Rudskoy, First Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, said, the Ukrainian Navy “ceased to exist.”

War on land and war at sea

It is possible that at the end of February the Russian fleet carried out a secret operation, about which no one reported anything. In particular, on February 26, it became known that the Nazis in Odessa were considering carrying out a terrorist attack using poisonous substances, specifically, blowing up tanks with ammonia.

On the evening of February 27, the Navy issued a demand on an open channel for all merchant ships to clear the water area near Odessa, explaining this by conducting an anti-terrorist operation. Turkish social networks were indignant, asking themselves the question – since when did the Black Sea become a Russian lake, but the order was carried out very quickly, all trade traffic shifted south in a few hours.

Soon, according to the statements of the Ukrainian side, the fleet detained two ships at sea – the Athena tanker and the Princess Nicole dry cargo ship. Both ships sailed under the Ukrainian flag. Until now, nothing is known about their fate, as well as about what the likelihood of a terrorist attack is now. A little later, on March 1-2, intensive flights of landing helicopters of the Russian Aerospace Forces were observed in the vicinity of Odessa, there is also a video. After that, talk of a potential terrorist attack subsided. All this looks like an action movie plot – but this is reality, and perhaps the Ministry of Defense will tell about it one day.

In the meantime, attack Su-24M and Su-30SM of the naval 43rd Separate Naval Attack Aviation Regiment were involved in the performance of strike missions over Ukraine. Marines and soldiers of the Coastal Forces are fighting in the Mariupol direction. And even a dam on the way of water to the Crimea was blown up by naval sappers.

A few days ago, according to media reports, ships of the Russian Navy supported the offensive of ground units in Mariupol with artillery fire from the sea. True, there are no photos or videos from our side, there is only a foreign satellite image.

But there is a photo of a ship that fired at Ukrainian positions in the Odessa region – it was a Project 11356 frigate, with a high degree of probability, Admiral Makarov. And Makarov, on the night of March 22, near the port of Ilyichevsk, hit with an anti-aircraft missile (all naval anti-aircraft systems can hit surface targets too) the Ukrainian diving vessel Neteshyn, from which they tried to lay mines. “Neteshin” jumped ashore so as not to sink, the mine laying did not take place.

The Ministry of Defense has not yet announced a complete list of the dead military personnel of the coastal troops and marines, as well as the presence or absence of losses in naval aviation. In the meantime, another sad news has become known – the deputy commander of the Black Sea Fleet, captain 1st rank Andrey Paliy, died in Mariupol. Alas, it is impossible to avoid losses.

What does the enemy do? A warning was circulated that some of the anchor mines put up by Ukraine to prevent a Russian landing in Odessa had been torn off the minreps and are now drifting with sea currents. A worse gift from Ukraine simply could not be imagined – now all shipping in the northwestern part of the Black Sea is under threat, and over time, the mines can be very far away.

The operation continues. As long as Turkey keeps the straits closed, not a single ship of a non-Black Sea NATO country will be in the theater of operations and the Russian Navy will operate freely. And whatever his further actions, he has already played his important role in the operation. The actions of the Navy are an excellent response to critics who love to talk about a “continental power.” Even if military operations are conducted on land, it is simply impossible to do without forces at sea. Ukraine is a prime example of this.

Alexander Timokhin, VZGLYAD

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