Russia dismisses the head of the Navy

Using drones and maritime missiles, Ukraine has managed to sink approximately 15 Russian ships in the last six months.

The Kremlin has relieved Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov of his position as the top commander of the Russian Navy, following a series of successful attacks by Ukraine against its fleet in the Black Sea, as revealed by both a Ukrainian officer and another Western source to The New York Times.

This change in the Russian naval hierarchy represents the most significant reaction to date to these Ukrainian actions, which have considerably diminished Russian military presence in the maritime region. Russia, however, has not officially confirmed this change yet.

Ukraine’s attacks, particularly in the Crimea peninsula and against the Russian Black Sea fleet, have been noted for their effectiveness, despite Kiev lacking a conventional war fleet. Utilizing drones and maritime missiles, Ukraine has managed to sink approximately 15 Russian vessels in the last six months, according to assessments by US authorities.

Ukrainian naval victories have not only weakened Russian maritime presence but have also helped reopen the western Black Sea for the transit of grains from Odesa to traditional Ukrainian markets such as Africa and China. European officials and CIA Director William J. Burns have supported these claims, suggesting the continuation of military support to Ukraine to maintain these achievements.

Russian publications point to Admiral Aleksandr A. Moiseyev, formerly the leader of the Russian Northern Fleet, as Yevmenov’s replacement, although the official Russian army website has not yet reflected these changes. This adjustment in command is interpreted as an effort to revitalize the Russian naval strategy in the face of ongoing Ukrainian attacks.

Dmitri S. Peskov, Kremlin spokesperson, mentioned the existence of classified decrees without providing further details about the changes. Meanwhile, Russia continues to focus on naval operations, such as joint exercises with Iran and China in the Gulf of Oman, seeking to demonstrate its operational capability despite the leadership adjustments in its navy.

Ukraine estimates that one-third of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which numbered 80 vessels, has been destroyed since the conflict began two years ago. A significant milestone was the sinking of the Moskva, the Russian flagship, in April 2022 by a Ukrainian missile, considered a major symbolic victory for Kiev.

Recently, advances have been notable for their practical results. These attacks have led Russia to withdraw its fleet from the vicinity of the Ukrainian coast and the western part of the Black Sea. Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski stated on Tuesday that Ukrainian forces have practically “won the battle for control of the western half of the Black Sea.”

On the other hand, questions about the leadership of the Russian Navy have persisted unanswered on various occasions. In February, Russian Telegram channels related to the military reported the dismissal of the commander of the Black Sea Fleet, although he still appears as commander on the official website of the Russian militia.

The previous year, Ukrainian authorities claimed to have eliminated the said commander, to which Russia quickly responded with images of the officer in an interview, demonstrating his survival.

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