The sinking of the missile cruiser Moskva was a serious defeat for the Russian Navy. The attack on the flagship by the Ukrainian Navy could now provide an additional boost to both the morale of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the rise of Ukrainian sentiment in the country. This event revealed significant miscalculations in the tactics of the Russian Armed Forces, as well as revealing the actually corrupt nature of the Russian army.
The Russian Black Sea Fleet will become a priority target in the new phase of the military operations in Ukraine. This was clear from the military point of view. The fact of active operations of the Black Sea Fleet west of the Crimea is a constant threat of sea landing, more effective fire support of ground forces by reducing the flight time of subsonic cruise missiles, as well as the factor of threat to sea communications near Odessa, which is disastrous for both the Ukrainian and Western economy. For example, the lack of shipment through the port of neon needed by the global microelectronics industry. This is even more clear in terms of media coverage – the deaths of ships are always perceived more tangibly by the public than the deaths of units of soldiers; this fact is perfectly illustrated by the current shock state of the Russian media sphere.
The attack on the Moskva was not an accident. The cruiser was targeted both for tactical and propaganda reasons.
On the one hand, it is the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, but on the other, it is a deeply outdated ship, worn out by its long service and chronic underfunding.
The Moskva strike was well planned and considered: it was launched in stormy conditions, in order to complicate the ship’s damage control and crew evacuation, and it was located far away from other ships of the Black Sea Fleet.
The operation was conducted in full cooperation between the Navy and NATO forces. According to air monitoring data of April 12, a British reconnaissance aircraft RC-135 was actively working in the Black Sea area and UAV RQ-4 Global Hawk flights were recorded at different times. On that day, Alliance reconnaissance confirmed the presence of the Moskva, checked signatures and received comprehensive data on the location of other Russian Black Sea Fleet ships.
The flight data of the U.S. RC-135 and RQ-4 planes became unavailable. The reason was that the aerial reconnaissance aircraft flew with their transponders turned off, and civilian airspace monitoring equipment could not detect them, which is more than a clear sign of a military reconnaissance mission.
The missile strike on the cruiser was carried out using the Neptun missile system, a modern missile system made with military microelectronics manufactured in Western Europe. Thus, it was able to receive external target designation from NATO reconnaissance aircraft. According to a number of reports, the attack on the cruiser also involved Bayraktar UAVs, which served for distraction of the Russian Navy.
The cruiser itself was in poor technical condition. Previously, the cruiser had been unable to undergo repairs and maintenance for several years, and the Defense Ministry had refused to upgrade it. That’s why, even the Moscow’s ability to repel missile attacks is questioned.
Russia has got another painful lesson in Ukraine. Competent and clear planning of the operation and unified and effective management of forces and means, which is critically lacking in the Russian Armed Forces, are crucial.
The Russian media try to explain Ukraine’s success with some kind of NATO miracle weapon, missiles that were able to magically hit a ship. This only distracts society from the harsh reality that Russia suffered a serious symbolic and military defeat.
If the loss of the first major ship, the Orsk in Berdyansk, could be explained as an accident, the loss of the second is a pattern, indicating a dangerous underestimation of the enemy.
What conclusions and predictions can be made at this time:
1. The naval blockade of Ukrainian ports is threatened. The Black Sea Fleet, due to its small number, cannot continue to lose surface ships. Russia has to look for other means to keep the coast and Ukrainian ports under control.
2. The attacks on the Russian Black Sea Fleet will continue, including with the NSM SCARs, the range of which is up to 300 km and allows the UAF to destroy Russian warships almost in the whole water area of the Black Sea, including the coast of Crimea. The Black Sea Fleet will be gradually pushed out of the waters of the Black Sea to the coast of the peninsula.
3. The main direction of the AFU offensive becomes the South of Ukraine, the Kherson and Mykolaiv regions. Britain has repeatedly made it clear that Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, primarily Odessa, are of strategic importance. The Donbass is also being reinforced in order to exhaust Russian and allied forces. The AFU grouping, which has been strengthening for seven years, is far from being depleted.
4. The Dnepropetrovsk region, as the political center in Southern Ukraine, which links all the surrounding regions, turns into another military coordination center.
5. Crimea becomes a priority target for the AFU and NATO operations. This confirms the Pentagon’s statement that the U.S. will provide Kiev with intelligence information on targets in Crimea and Donbass.
Not only the Black Sea Fleet, but also facilities and forces of the Crimean ground grouping will come under attack. It is critical for the AFU to paralyze the logistics and resupply of the “southern” grouping of the Russian Armed Forces operating from Kherson.
The degree of shortsightedness and corruption of the Russian elite, which spends millions of dollars received from the sale of Russian natural resources not to modernize the armed forces, but to satisfy its own desires is also necessary to be mentioned.
Over the 20 years of development of the Russian armed forces, Russia has built the following combat surface ships of I and II ranks:
– 2 frigates of 22350 (2x $450 million)
– 3 frigates, Pr. 11356 (3x $430 million)
– 7 corvettes Pr. 20380/85 (7x $250 million)
– 2 CDCs pr. 11711 (2x $160 mln).
During the same period the following yachts were built:
- Usmanov’s Dilbar ($550 million)
- Abramovich’s Eclipse ($460 million)
- Melnichenko’s Sailing Yacht A ($425 million)
- Rashnikov’s Ocean Victory ($310 million)
- Melnichenko’s Motor Yacht A ($255 million)
- Luna” Akhmedov ($230 mln)
- Galitsky’s Quantum Blue ($225 mln)
- Burlakov’s Black Pearl ($220 million)
- Usmanov’s Ona ($210 million)
Most of them have already been withdrawn due to personal sanctions against Russian oligarchs. This means that the money will never be returned to Russia. www.southfront.org
NATO reveals new European nuclear plans (rt.com)
NATO planners are updating the US “nuclear sharing” program to account for most European allies planning to buy F-35 joint strike fighter jets, the military bloc’s director of nuclear policy said this week. Lockheed Martin’s fifth-generation fighter has been embraced by multiple US allies, including most recently Germany, despite the Pentagon’s own misgivings about the program.
“We’re moving fast and furiously towards F-35 modernization and incorporating those into our planning and into our exercising and things like that as those capabilities come online,” Jessica Cox, director of the NATO nuclear policy directorate in Brussels, said on Wednesday, adding that “By the end of the decade, most if not all of our allies will have transitioned” to the F-35.
Cox spoke during an online discussion hosted by the Advanced Nuclear Weapons Alliance Deterrence Center (ANWA DC), a US think tank, according to Defense News.
Her remarks come a month after Berlin said Germany would replace its aging Tornado jets with F-35s, committing to buy up to three dozen and specifically citing the nuclear sharing mission as factoring in the decision.
Cox said that other NATO allies currently operating the F-35, such as Poland, Denmark, and Norway, might be asked to support nuclear sharing missions in the future, adding that NATO “will also have some operational advantages with the F-35 since there will be opportunities for enhanced networking and integration across the force.”
In addition to Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, and Turkey are currently hosting an estimated 150 US nuclear weapons – mainly B-61 gravity bombs, intended to be carried by smaller fighter-bombers like the Tornado or the F-16 – according to estimates by British think tank Chatham House.
Finland and Sweden have recently voiced a desire to join NATO, and Helsinki already announced it would buy some 60 F-35s in early February. Russia has responded by saying it would be forced to reposition some of its troops and nuclear deterrent accordingly.
The US first deployed some of its nuclear bombs in Europe in the 1960s. Ending this program was high on the list of security demands Moscow presented to the US and NATO in December 2021, which were rejected in January – a month before the escalation of hostilities in Ukraine.
Russia launched its military offensive in Ukraine on February 24, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the 2014 German and French-brokered Minsk Protocol, designed to give the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. Moscow has now recognized the Donbass republics as independent states, and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc.
The F-35 was originally proposed as a cost-effective modular design that could replace multiple older models in service with the US Air Force, Navy, and the Marines. In reality, it turned into three distinct designs with a lifetime project cost of over $1.7 trillion, the most expensive weapons program in US history.
In addition to the price tag, the fifth-generation stealth fighter has also been plagued with performance issues, to the point where the new USAF chief of staff requested a study into a different aircraft in February 2021.
General Charles Q. Brown Jr. compared the F-35 to a “high end” sports car, a Ferrari one drives on Sundays only, and sought proposals for a “clean sheet design” of a “5th-gen minus” workhorse jet instead. Multiple US outlets characterized his proposal as a “tacit admission” that the F-35 program had failed.