Russia’s Black Sea Fleet Is Quietly Relocating Kilo-Class Submarines away from Ukraine – Britain’s Ministry of Defence revealed in an intelligence update this week that the Russian military had relocated some of its submarines from the port of Sevastopol in Crimea. The submarines were reportedly moved to Novorissiysk in Kasnodor Krai, a region of southern Russia.
The move is significant, particularly given the impact that the sinking of the Russian flagship Moskva dramatically weakened Russia’s naval abilities in the region, and as the Kremlin fights tooth and nail to hold on to territory in the south.
According to the British Ministry of Defence, the decision to move the Kilo-class submarines was likely motivated by the increased local security threat level, which leaves the Russians open to more significant losses at a time when they need to be making gains.
After Ukraine sunk a Russian barge reportedly “loaded with weapons” and other equipment, the move is hardly surprising.
“The command of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has almost certainly relocated its KILO-class submarines from their home port of Sevastopol in Crimea to Novorossiysk in Krasnodar Krai, southern Russia,” the update reads.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 20 September 2022
Find out more about the UK government's response: https://t.co/gmR2GIiKs1
— Ministry of Defence ?? (@DefenceHQ) September 20, 2022
“In the last two months, the fleet headquarters and its main naval aviation airfield have been attacked,” it continues.
How Long Will It Last?
Putin may be moving valuable weaponry, vehicles, ships, and submarines away from dangerous territory while his military engages in a new offensive against Ukraine.
Following the highly successful Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kharkiv, the Kremlin first claimed its troops were “regrouping” in the Donbas region. While the claim was technically true, as Putin has since promised a new “partial mobilization” of his military in Donetsk and Luhansk, the Russian president was eventually forced to admit significant losses in Kharkiv.
Those losses caused real trouble for the Russian president. Not only was it a significant military setback, but he also began to lose the support of the public. While a vast majority of Russians remain on Putin’s side in the war, heavy and embarrassing losses caused some politicians to call for the president to be sacked and could cause the Russian public to wonder whether the economic damage was really worth it.
Knowing this, Putin could be preparing to use newly-obtained reservists to re-establish dominance in Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk, and then return valuable submarines, ships, and vehicles to the region to assist with those military efforts. If that’s the case, it could mean many months of Russian submarines sitting off the coast of Russia until the coast is clear – assuming Putin’s escalations have the desired effect.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.