Russian shakes up Black Sea fleet command after series of blows in Crimea – state agency


A view shows the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet after a reported combat drone strike in Sevastopol, Crimea, July 31, 2022. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

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LONDON, Aug. 17 (Reuters) – Russia’s Black Sea fleet, based in annexed Crimea, has installed a new commander, RIA news agency quoted sources as saying on Wednesday, after Russian military bases on the peninsula were rocked by explosions over the past nine days. .

If confirmed, the removal of former commander Igor Osipov would mark the most prominent resignation of a military official in nearly six months since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in which it suffered heavy casualties in men and equipment.

The state-owned RIA quoted sources as saying the new chief, Viktor Sokolov, was being introduced to members of the fleet’s military council in the port of Sevastopol.

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A source said it was “normal” for the appointment not to be announced publicly at a time when Russia was engaged in what it calls its special military operation in Ukraine.

The Black Sea Fleet, which has a respected history in Russia, has suffered several very public humiliations over the course of the war launched by President Vladimir Putin on February 24.

In April, Ukraine struck its lead warship, the Moskva, with Neptune missiles, causing it to catch fire and sink. read more

Last week, according to satellite images, the Saki Air Force Base in southwestern Crimea, near the fleet headquarters in Sevastopol, was destroyed by a series of explosions that destroyed eight fighter jets.

Then on Tuesday, an explosion shook an ammunition depot at a military base in the north of the peninsula. Russia called that an act of sabotage and Ukraine hinted that it was responsible. read more

On Wednesday, Russia’s FSB security service said it had detained six members of what it called an Islamist terrorist cell in Crimea, though it did not say whether they were suspected of involvement in the explosions.


Much larger than the Ukrainian Navy, the Black Sea Fleet is a source of national pride dating back to its foundation under Empress Catherine the Great in 1783.

Crimea, which Russia took from Ukraine in 2014 and has since expanded extensively, is the main supply route for Russian invasion forces occupying southern Ukraine, where Kiev plans a counter-offensive in the coming weeks.

The flotilla has blocked Ukraine’s ports since the war started in February, holding back exports of vital grains, which are only now getting back on track thanks to an agreement between Turkey and the United Nations.

The fact that Ukraine has apparently been able to launch devastating attacks on what Moscow saw as a secure rear stronghold has served as a morale-boosting coup for Kiev.

The previous commander, Osipov, 49, had been in charge since May 2019, according to his official biography on the Defense Ministry website.

His replacement, 60-year-old Sokolov, had extensive experience leading minesweeping ships and units in the 1980s and 1990s, then rose to a series of posts in the Pacific and Northern Fleets, serving as deputy commander in the latter. Since 2020, he has been leading a prestigious military academy.

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Reporting by Reuters; Editing by David Holmes and Alex Richardson

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Mark Trevelyan

Thomson Reuters

Main writer on Russia and CIS. Worked as a journalist on 7 continents, reporting from 40+ countries, with postings in London, Wellington, Brussels, Warsaw, Moscow and Berlin. Covered the breakup of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. Security correspondent from 2003 to 2008. Speaks French, Russian and (rusty) German and Polish.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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