Espreso. Global

"Pack" attack’s effectiveness: another Russian Black Sea Fleet ship Sergei Kotov sinks. Serhiy Zgurets’ column 

6 March, 2024 Wednesday

This cool attack took place last night, March 5, in the territorial waters of Ukraine near the Kerch Strait. The Russian ship was destroyed by MAGURA V5 maritime drones in cooperation with the DIU and the Ukrainian Navy

The sinking of the Russian Black Sea Fleet corvette Sergei Kotov

Allow me to begin with a story that, while already familiar to many, deserves mention. It revolves around our maritime drones' successful attack on the Russian Black Sea Fleet's patrol ship Sergei Kotov. This remarkable assault occurred on March 5, within our country's territorial waters near the Kerch Strait. The Defense Intelligence of Ukraine (HUR) has confirmed the operation's success, highlighting that the ship's destruction resulted from a collaborative effort between the HUR and the Ukrainian Navy. The attack was executed using MAGURA V5 maritime drones, whose development and improvement are overseen by military intelligence.

Later, the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine released a video showing the “pack” attack. First, these maritime drones hit the port side of the ship, and then after a short time, the starboard side. The ship becomes immovable and then several more drones strike the sides, even another drone enters the hole and blows up the ship from the inside. This tactic was used before, when the large amphibious assault ship Caesar Kunikov was destroyed on February 14. This "pack" tactic also proved to be quite effective.

The HUR also demonstrated the interception of a conversation in which the commander of a brigade of ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet reports and says that a helicopter was used to repel the attack. That is, they knew that the attack would happen, but they were unable to repel it. According to the HUR, such a ship costs over $60 million. Among the losses was a K-29 helicopter that was transporting the corvette in the hangar. In terms of manpower losses, there were 7 killed, 6 wounded, and about 50 crew members were evacuated after the attack.

This corvette is one of the newest ships of this project, it was put in use with the Russian Black Sea Fleet in 2022. We can say that there were 4 such ships, and now there are 3 left.

What conclusion can we draw? The Ukrainian Armed Forces have been regularly destroying Russian Black Sea Fleet ships since the beginning of the full-scale invasion. In total, about 15 ships have been destroyed or damaged by missiles, but most of them have been destroyed by naval drones. This strategy not only demonstrates an effective tactic of displacing the enemy but also played a crucial role in the establishment of the grain corridor. We expect more to come, as the enemy still has enough targets for our naval drones.

The situation at the front

The front line is currently facing extreme challenges, with 74 clashes reported, indicating intense combat activity. The most critical situations are unfolding in the Novopavlivka direction and in the area west of Avdiivka. According to the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, 28 attacks have been repelled near the settlements of Berdychi, Tonenke, Pervomaiske, and Nevelske. The situation in each of these areas is notably severe.

Oleksandr Shyrshyn, the deputy battalion commander of the 47th Brigade, described the recent days as particularly challenging, as Russia has been aggressively attempting to conduct assault offensives on a daily basis. Initially, the Russian forces deployed a significant amount of equipment and infantry towards Ukrainian combat formations. These attempts were met with strong resistance, resulting in the destruction of the enemy infantry along with their equipment, thanks to the effective use of Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and FPV drones. Observing the loss of much of their equipment, left abandoned in the fields, Russian soldiers have now slightly altered their approach. Instead of large-scale assaults, they are conducting smaller infantry offensives, about 5-7 times a day, indicating a high intensity of combat activity.

The deputy battalion commander of the 47th Brigade noted that the Ukrainian Armed Forces almost fully control Berdychi. Russian forces have established themselves in the first 5-6 buildings of the town, but Ukrainian forces control the remaining area, maintaining their positions. This scenario mirrors the situation in Stepove, where defenders held out for 4 months. The composition of the Russian forces remains the same, although some brigades have been reconstituted once or twice. Captured Russian soldiers report that their ranks are replenished with new recruits every few days, who are then quickly sent into assault operations.

The soldier mentioned that his brigade utilizes all available armored vehicles. Despite the high quality of the equipment, losses are inevitable in war. Thanks to the courage of their crews, who often engage directly and sometimes cross the contact line, they succeed in disrupting enemy formations. Currently, there's a noticeable reduction in Russia’s use of KAB bombs, yet they remain active. Russian troops haven't introduced any novel tactics lately. In Stepove they were employing chemical agents, these tactics have not been documented in Berdychi so far.

Shyrshyn highlighted that there is truth in the criticisms regarding unequipped positions. While certain areas have been equipped with trenches or specific positions dug by excavators, there remains work for personnel to further fortify these positions. Unfortunately, this essential work is not progressing as desired. The reasons for this can be discussed, but it's crucial to recognize that wartime demands extraordinary efforts, including physical labor such as digging trenches. For those in the rear who demand explanations on the absence of a second line of defense, you can volunteer and form a team to assist in trench-digging while the military holds the front line. Given that some soldiers are actively engaged in combat operations, fortification efforts during active fighting pose challenges. However, the brigades currently in the rear can undertake these fortification tasks.

Concluding the conversation with Oleksandr Shyrshyn, I would like to say that his brigade is currently holding the line west of Avdiivka near Berdychi. This is the area where Russian troops are trying to push our defense along the entire line. However, we see that in this area, where the 47th Brigade is stationed, Russia is not succeeding and suffering losses. Although, we should recognize that this defense is based on the courage of those soldiers and officers, one of whom we talked to today.

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