Earlier, we published a big interview with the co-founders of the School of Military Divers. Currently, the project’s instructors are not military serving in the Ukrainian Navy, accordingly, they are not restricted with any statutes, so their courageous assessment of the actual situation in the Black Sea as well as of our preparedness to withstand the powerful aggressor, has raised certain explicable concerns. Not to rely upon the opinion aired by the divers alone, today we publish commentaries of admiral Ihor Voronchenko, Commander of the Naval Forces of Ukraine, formulated by him at the Age of Crimea forum. Let us be honest: there is too little reassuring information in it.
Admiral Ihor Voronchenko, an experienced officer, the holder of many military decorations, has been leading the Naval Forces of Ukraine since 2016
As of today, the security situation in the Black Sea region remains unstable, and unfortunately, there is no tendency toward its improvement so far. There are some cancerous tumors in a few countries – Transnistria, Crimea, Donbas, Ossetia, and Abkhazia – and these are critical points on which the RF stands. Actually, today the aggressor is focusing on the deployment of troops and projection of force onto the Mediterranean and the Eastern hemisphere. Limitation of access for their global competitors is the Kremlin’s goal,” – this is how admiral describes the overall situation. According to Mr. Voronchenko, Russia’s been building up its military power in the Black Sea region since 2003, when Ukraine and RF signed the treaty on cooperation in the use of the Sea of Azov. The agreement specifies the limitation of access of the third countries’ fleets into the sea. A similar treaty regarding the navigation in the Caspian Sea, has been signed by five countries in 2018.
“In this sea, Russia keeps pursuing its own interests as well: it was the Caspian Sea from where the first Caliber missiles were fired at Syria,” – Mr. Voronchenko mentioned, and added that the Russians’ military presence in the Crimea works for the theater of combat operations in Syria, Livia and Africa. According to the Ukrainian Navy commander, Russia has been reconsidering and replanning its assets to get maximum effectiveness in the Mediterranean as well as for further expanse of its impact onto other regions.
“The numbers speak for themselves: out of the entire spendings on the fleet’s armament and equipment, the Black Sea fleet got 60%, while only 20% were allocated to the Baltic Sea fleet, and the Northern and the Pacific Ocean fleets got 10% each. In other words, Putin focuses the attention on the Black Sea. In fact, for the recent 6 years Russia has rearmed all the Black Sea Fleet’s ships. Instead of the 29 ships they now have 42 vessels out of which 12 ships carry nuclear arms. Total volley of the Caliber missiles amounts to 72 launches, but if to add the Caspian Fleet and their onshore component that includes the Bastion and Bal complexes, it makes up about 120 missiles. By our count, by 2022 this total volley will reach 168 launches,” – Mr. Voronchenko predicts.
Despite the Caliber cruise missiles have still been technically imperfect and rather expensive military toys to manufacture, the Russians already have these in their possession, which is a really threatening fact
In addition, Russia placed seven submarines in the Black Sea, six of which belong to modern classes and are highly effective. Similarly, the Russians strengthened their onshore component as well. “The numbers indicate that the Russians have increased their ground-based component by several times. There is the 22nd Army Corps there, and some military experts predict that they will develop it into a full functioning 22nd army soon”, – admiral tells.
If earlier there were no anti-ship complexes in the Crimea at all, today these are already present within the 15th anti-ship brigade. Similarly, throughout the whole Crimea a powerful aviation component including all types of air force has been built: it consists of a bomber force, attack aircraft, fighter aviation, intel and anti-submarine aircraft. As to the air defense, according to admiral, the Russians re-equipped it with the latest C-400 complexes scattered all over the Crimean peninsula.
The occupiers’ Black Sea Fleet along with their land-based facilities and onshore infrastructure make rather a powerful force. One can hardly defeat them easily
While listing the facts of the crawling annexation of the Crimea, the Commander remembered capture of Ukraine’s oil platforms and fields, construction of a bridge across the Kerch Straight, redeployment of troops from the Caspian fleet in to the Sea of Azov, free navigation blockage in 2018, closure of four segments of the Black Sea during multinational navy exercise which considerably impeded civil marine traffic. All these actions have impacted Ukraine’s economy extremely negatively.
According to the Ukrainian Naval Forces Commander, the Russians have strong geopolitical interests in the Black Sea region that would lead to their indisputable prevalence there. “Russia aims to consolidate its power in the Caspian – Azov – Black Seas triangle. Why? To cover up the Caucasian region with an ‘umbrella’ and force Ukraine to give up its sea possessions, to ensure their domination over Ukraine and its allies I the Black Sea, as well as to block shipment of Chinese goods to the West. And an immediate goal is, of course, the expansion of their influence onto the Western Asia via the Mediterranean,” – admiral said.
The chief officer also reminded that simultaneously with the launch of the Turkish stream, Russia set up hydro acoustic stations all along the pipeline allowing them “to see everything that happens underwater”. Russians have already formed a similar frontier at Tarkhankut cape where they established total monitoring of the ships heading to the Ukrainian Black Sea ports.
Within the relevant project, we try hard to keep the initiative effective: the School of Military Divers instructors have been actively training combat divers for the Ukrainian Navy
In our turn, dear friends, we remind you that the war is still on, and it would be highly naive to hope that the aggressor will abandon their global plans as regards military and economical expansion, and will immediately go for peace offer. So we do what we have to: within the corresponding initiative launched by Peoples Project, we try to assist in establishing, development and further growth of the Diving School set up by the Naval Forces of Ukraine. The volunteers of the School of Military Divers have been energetically participating in practical training of our future combat divers while we’re accumulating funds for settling down their operative needs: we have to provide them with essential equipment and funds to pay their training facilities rental costs and so on. That is why we urge you to keep participation in the project. Definitely, it is the best investment into our own security and, eventually, in our country’s existence.
Dear friends, please join in: the Crimea will hardly liberate itself on its own.