Suicide “drone boats” attack Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet

Russia withdrew security guarantees for Ukrainian Black Sea grain shipments in retaliation

An apparent video feed of the bow of a drone boat under fire, Sevastopol, October 29

Posted on October 30, 2022 at 4:06 p.m. by

The Maritime Executive

Ukrainian forces are believed to be responsible for a “suicide boat“attack on at least one Russian Navy warship, potentially including an Admiral Grigorovich-class frigate. The Ukrainian military did not claim responsibility for the attack.

Video footage appearing to show drone camera perspectives indicates the attacks took place near and in the port of Sevastopol, the well-guarded home port of the Black Sea Fleet. A similar, uniquely designed drone boat was found near the same area at September.

The frigate in question would be the Admiral Makarov, the current flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, but details have not been confirmed by either party. Russian frigates and submarines have frequently been used to launch Kalibr cruise missiles at targets in Ukraine.

The Russian Defense Ministry says eight unmanned aerial vehicles and seven unmanned surface ships (USVs) were involved in the attack, and reported that the minesweeper Ivan Golubets suffered “minor damage”. The ministry further claimed that British forces participated in the attack and destruction of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines – a claim which the UK Ministry of Defense vehemently denied. “This fabricated story says more about the arguments taking place within the Russian government than it does about the West,” Britain’s MOD said in a statement.

The Kremlin also claimed that the Russian Navy ships hit by the drone attack were used to provide security for the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Russia has refrained from attacking merchant ships since the initiative began in August, although several tankers and bulk carriers have been struck by Russian ammunition in the first months of the invasion.

The attack on Sevastopol is not the first setback for the Black Sea Fleet in recent months. Ukrainian forces sank the last flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, the cruiser Moscowand severely damaged Russian construction bridge across the Kerch Strait, hampering Russian military logistics and degrading an important symbol of Russia’s territorial ambitions.

Cereal initiative suspended

In response to the attack on military targets in Sevastopol, Russia suspended cooperation with the Black Sea Grain Initiative, withdrawing its promise not to hit merchant ships – and leaving millions of tonnes of Ukrainian grain in limbo. The UN-run Black Sea Grains Initiative Joint Coordinating Center said on Sunday it was “reviewing recent developments…and discussing next steps.”

The Russian Navy imposed a blockade on Ukrainian ports in the early months of the war, and several foreign-flagged bulk carriers and tankers were struck by Russian fire during the period. The signing of the joint Turkish-Russian/Ukrainian grain initiative in July raised hopes that such attacks would be left in the past – but Russia’s withdrawal from the deal is upsetting industry expectations in maritime safety on the road.

Russia’s decision was widely condemned by NATO-aligned countries.

“By suspending this deal, Russia is again militarizing food in the war it started, directly impacting low- and middle-income countries and global food prices, and exacerbating humanitarian crises. and already severe food insecurity,” said Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State. , in a statement on Sunday. “Any act by Russia to disrupt these critical grain exports is essentially a statement that people and families around the world should pay more for food or go hungry.”

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, said the suspension of the deal blocked 176 ships and two million tonnes of grain – and added that it was not the first Russian action to disrupt the corridor.

“The current queue with grain has been piling up in the Black Sea since September, when Russia began deliberately delaying the operation of the corridor and seeking to undermine the deal. Russia made the decision to resume its Hunger Games a long time ago and is now trying to justify it,” Kuleba said in a statement.

In their communications with the Russian public, some Russian officials have made it clear that restrictions on Ukrainian food exports are aimed at advancing Russia’s strategic goals. In June, top state television executive Margarita Simonyan Told an economic forum whose confidants around him are “hoping for a famine” to pressure the West for sanctions relief.

“Why is Moscow disrupting the grain deal now? The answer is: Putin needs leverage as things go wrong for him on the battlefields in Ukraine, so the threat of a global food crisis needs to be put back into the Russian toolbox of coercion and blackmail,” Alexander Gabuev, senior researcher at the Carnegie Endowment, told the FT. .

Shipping expected to resume without Russian approval

Traffic on the grain corridor was halted on Sunday as Turkey, Ukraine and the United Nations discussed options. In an update at the end of the day, the Grain Initiative JCC said it plans to inspect 40 outgoing vessels in a single day on Monday – more than any previous day in the program’s history – with 10 teams of joint Turkish/UN inspections, compared to five when Russia took part. “The delegation of the Russian Federation has been informed,” the CCM said in a statement.

In addition, the Turkish, Ukrainian and UN delegations decided on Monday to approve the movement of 16 ships, including four incoming ones, despite Russia’s withdrawal from the program. The UN officials in charge of the initiative have “informed the delegation of the Russian Federation” of their intention to proceed with the trip.

Earnest A. Martinez