Harried By Drones, A Russian Warship Goes Hunting For Grain Ships

For 11 months, a fragile truce allowed Ukraine to ship 32 million tons of grain from Odesa and smaller ports out of the Black Sea to world markets. This regardless of the Russian navy controlling a lot of the Black Sea.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative collapsed on July 17 after Russia unilaterally withdrew from the settlement. It certainly isn’t any coincidence that Moscow killed the deal on the identical time Ukrainian forces have been advancing alongside a number of axes as a part of their long-anticipated 2023 counteroffensive.

An embargo is simply pretty much as good as its enforcement, in fact. So it ought to come as no shock that the Black Sea Fleet is positioning a minimum of considered one of its 30 warships, the corvette Sergey Kotov, within the southern Black Sea inside hanging vary of the primary sea routes from Odesa to the Bosporus Strait.

With the top of the BSGI, industrial shippers are reluctant to threat their ships on the 720-mile spherical journey via the Bosporus to Odesa and again.

But Russian commanders aren’t ready for shippers to alter their minds. “There is a realistic possibility that it will form part of a task group to intercept commercial vessels Russia believes are heading to Ukraine,” the U.Okay. protection ministry warned with regard to Sergey Kotov.

The corvette isn’t a big warship. Displacing simply 1,700 tons, she’s 15 % as massive as a U.S. Navy destroyer is.

Sergey Kotov’s crew numbers simply 80. But she’s closely armed for a vessel her dimension, with a 76-millimeter gun and Kalibr land-attack cruise missiles. She definitely can threaten an unarmed cargo ship.

As constructed, Sergey Kotov and her 5 Black Sea Fleet sister ships lacked main air-defenses, nonetheless. After the Ukrainian navy sank the Black Sea Fleet cruiser Moskva with a Neptune anti-ship cruise missile in April 2022, the fleet swiftly chained a Tor air-defense car to Sergey Kotov’s deck. It’s unclear how efficient this advert hoc air-defense is.

Despite scuttling its sole massive warship, the frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy, in Odesa within the early days of Russia’s wider struggle on Ukraine beginning in February 2022, the Ukrainian navy has deployed Neptune and Harpoon missiles, aerial drones and explosives-laden unmanned boats and efficiently contested management of the western Black Sea.

All that’s to say, Sergey Kotov is just not secure. On Monday, two Ukrainian drone boats obtained inside gun vary of the corvette earlier than the Russian crew blew the boats out of the water. “There are no casualties,” the Kremlin stated. “The Black Sea Fleet’s ship Sergey Kotov continues engaging in assigned missions.”

Ukraine’s low-cost, speedy unmanned floor autos are a rising downside for the Black Sea Fleet. USV raids have stored a lot of the fleet bottled up in its ports for a lot of the 15 months since Moskva’s sinking.

Sergey Kotov may not survive her foray into the southern Black Sea. In the meantime, nonetheless, she could be simply sufficient of a risk to spook transport corporations and implement a blockade of Ukraine’s grain ports.

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