Putin’s Big Plan to Seize Odesa? – On day 27 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian troops continue to struggle. Despite the constant shelling, Mariupol remains in Ukrainian hands. Kyiv, too, remains defiant, and Ukrainian forces have even pushed Russian troops back in certain places around the Ukrainian capital.
Increased activity in the Black Sea suggests that Moscow might be planning an amphibious assault in Odesa.
Amphibious Assault in Odesa?
The Pentagon has spotted increased naval activity off the coast of Odesa, the critical port of Ukraine.
“We have seen some increased naval activity in the northern Black Sea. The Russians have a little bit more than a dozen warships, different stripes and sizes— amphibious ships, surface combatants, mine sweeper and some patrol boats that they’ve got up in the northern Black Sea,” a senior U.S. defense official said.
An attack there, however, would be extremely risky for the Russians. They are already pursuing five different advances, but they are failing to support them sufficiently with supplies and reinforcements. Opening another front would only further frustrate Moscow’s ability to resupply and support its forces.
“It is not clear that this is an imminent pre-staging sign of an amphibious assault on Odesa, so it would be, at this point, we would assess that it would be wrong to conclude that this is somehow an indication that Odesa is under an imminent threat of an amphibious assault,” the American defense official stated.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Tuesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 15,300 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 99 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 123 helicopters, 509 tanks, 252 artillery pieces, 1,556 armored personnel carriers, 80 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), three boats, 1,000 vehicles, 70 fuel tanks, 45 anti-aircraft batteries, 35 unmanned aerial systems, and 15 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles.
Over the weekend, there were reports that Russia launched a hypersonic missile against a Ukrainian underground arms depot. The Russian Ministry of Defense stated that it fired a Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic missile against a military target in western Ukraine.
However, the Pentagon isn’t certain that the Russians did indeed fire a hypersonic missile and, if they did, why.
“On the hypersonic claim that the Russians made, we’re not able to refute it, but we can’t independently confirm it, either. It’s not entirely clear. So what we would assess is it’s certainly possible. But it’s a bit of a head-scratcher, to be honest with you,” the senior U.S. defense official said.
“It’s not exactly clear why, if it’s true, why would you need a hypersonic missile fired from not that far away to hit a building? It could be that they’re running low on precision-guided munitions and feel like they need to tap into that resource. It could be that they’re trying to send a message to the west, but also to Ukraine, and trying to gain some leverage at the negotiating table. But, from a military perspective, if it was a hypersonic missile there’s not a whole lot of practicality about it,” the Pentagon official added.
On Monday, the Russian Aerospace Force conducted approximately 300 aircraft sorties over Ukraine. But despite the increased frequency of sorties, the Russians have failed to achieve air dominance, and the skies over Ukraine remain contested.
1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.