The Ukrainian military claims devastating Russian losses in a recent long-range missile strike against the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet headquarters.
Last week, the Ukrainian military launched a salvo of what was likely Storm Shadow or SCALP-EG cruise missiles against the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, Crimea.
Now, the Ukrainians are claiming that the attack killed the commander of the Black Sea Fleet as well as 33 more officers.
A Decapitation Strike
On Friday morning, the Ukrainian military launched a salvo of cruise missiles against the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, the missile strike against Sevastopol last week killed Admiral Viktor Nikolayevich Sokolov, the Black Sea Fleet’s commanding officer, and 33 additional officers while also wounding more than 100 Russian troops.
The Russian Ministry of Defense denies Kyiv’s claims, even releasing video footage from a leadership conference with Sokolov. However, the credibility of the footage is questionable, and the Kremlin’s track record with truth is suspicious, to say the least. If the Ukrainians have managed to land such a deadly targeted strike, it would be a significant hit on the Russian chain of command and morale.
A Series of Attacks in Ukraine
But this is just one of the attacks against the Russian Black Sea Fleet over the past few weeks.
The previous strike before the one against the Russian headquarters destroyed a landing ship and an attack submarine while also inflicting heavy damage on Sevastopol’s shipyard facilities.
“The Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF) has suffered a series of major attacks in recent weeks, culminating in strikes on its headquarters on 20 and 22 September 2023. These attacks have been more damaging and more coordinated than thus far in the war,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.
Although the Russian Black Sea Fleet has been receiving severe battering, overall, it continues to be an effective fighting force and can fulfill its assigned wartime missions of long-range strikes against Ukrainian urban centers and critical infrastructure and local security patrols.
“It is, however, likely that its ability to continue wider regional security patrols and enforce its de facto blockade of Ukrainian ports will be diminished. It also likely has a degraded ability to defend its assets in port and to conduct routine maintenance,” the British Military Intelligence stated.
“A dynamic, deep strike battle is underway in the Black Sea. This is likely forcing Russia into a reactive posture whilst demonstrating that Ukraine’s military can undermine the Kremlin’s symbolic and strategic power projection from its warm water port in occupied Sevastopol,” the British Military Intelligence added.
In response to Ukrainian undersea suicide drones, the Russian Navy has created a complex defensive net at the entrance of the Sevastopol harbor. However, the Russian military seems to have a hard time defending against Kyiv’s Western-provided cruise missiles. That is one of the reasons that the West should continue to arm Ukraine with advanced weapon systems, including MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS).
About the Author and His Expertise
A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations and a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ). He holds a BA from the Johns Hopkins University, an MA from the Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and is pursuing a J.D. at Boston College Law School. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.