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Ukraine's David vs. Goliath Victory: Sinking Russia's Naval Ego Without a Single Ship

At the dawn of the war, the Russian Black Sea Fleet proudly sailed with about 40 ships of various types and 7 submarines. The Ukrainians, armed with nothing but their wits and perhaps a hefty dose of audacity, have managed to sink nearly 40% of this Russian flotilla, including the flagship cruiser “Moskva”.

Source: Russian warship go f**k yourself' stamp.

In a tale that might make David and Goliath look like a school yard scuffle, Ukraine, a nation effectively sans navy, has astonishingly outfoxed the formidable Russian Black Sea Fleet. Since the war escalated in March 2022, Ukraine has not just rewritten the rules of naval warfare; it seems they've thrown the rulebook overboard.

Russia's Black Sea Fleet was a formidable force at the beginning of the war, boasting approximately 40 surface warships of various classes, including surface combatants, amphibious vessels, and mine warfare ships. This arsenal was supported by auxiliaries and seven submarines, two deployed in the Mediterranean as of March 2022. In February 2022, the fleet received reinforcements with six landing ships, including three Ropucha-class vessels from the Baltic Fleet and two from the Northern Fleet, further bolstering its naval strength.

Despite this overwhelming naval power, Ukraine has managed to turn the tide—quite literally—against Russia. Without a fleet of its own, Ukraine has sunk or damaged approximately 40% of all Russian ships in the Black Sea. This staggering feat is not only a testament to Ukraine's resilience and tactical genius but also an ironic twist straight out of a naval satire. Their use of innovative tactics like anti-ship missiles and drones has been a game-changer, proving that David really can take down Goliath, and he doesn't even need a slingshot this time.

Source: Flagman of Russian Black Sea Fleet cruiser “Moskva”.

The sinking of the Russian flagship "Moscow" became the highlight of Ukraine's maritime strategy. This cruiser of the Slava class, once the pride of the Russian fleet, found a sea grave on April 13, 2022, thanks to the Ukrainian Neptune rockets. His death is a historical event: this is the first large military ship sent to the bottom by a Ukrainian rocket, the first flagship lost by Russia during the Second World War. A worthy achievement for a country without a fleet, reminiscent of a victory in a chess game without a queen.

Chronology of maritime failures of Russia is read as a maritime tragedy:

  • Five Raptor-Class Patrol Boats (22 March 2022): A video surfaced showing a Raptor-class patrol boat being hit by an anti-tank guided missile. In early May 2022, Ukrainian forces using Bayraktar TB2 drones attacked four more Raptor-class boats near Snake Island, resulting in three being destroyed and one damaged.

  • Saratov (24 March 2022): The Russian Navy Alligator-class landing ship caught fire while docked in Berdiansk, Ukraine. Initially, its destruction was unclear, but it was later confirmed that the Saratov had been scuttled by its own crew to prevent detonation of onboard munitions.

  • Moskva (13 April 2022): The Russian flagship, a Slava-class cruiser, was hit by Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missiles and caught fire. The damage led to the ship sinking while being towed to port, marking a significant loss for the Russian Navy.

  • BK-16 High-Speed Assault Boat (Early May 2022): A Ukrainian Bayraktar TB2 drone was captured in a video sinking this high-speed assault boat near Snake Island.

  • Serna-Class Landing Craft (7 May 2022): Another success for Ukraine's drone strategy, a Serna-class landing craft was sunk by a Bayraktar TB2 drone near Snake Island.

  • Veliky Ustyug (17 June 2022): A photo showed the Buyan-M-class corvette being towed on the Volga River in a damaged state, indicating another loss for the Russian fleet.

  • Vasily Bekh (17 June 2022): The rescue tug Vasily Bekh was sunk by two Harpoon missiles, a claim later confirmed by British military intelligence.

  • Ivan Golubets (29 October 2022): The Natya-class minesweeper was reported to have been slightly damaged by Ukrainian unmanned aerial and submarine vehicles in Sevastopol, Crimea.

  • Yury Ivanov-Class Intelligence Ship Ivan Khurs (24 May 2023): This vessel was possibly damaged by one of three Ukrainian sea drones.

  • Olenegorsky Gornyak (4 August 2023): Near the Port of Novorossiysk, this Project 775 Ropucha-class landing ship was seriously damaged by a joint effort of the Ukrainian SBU and Navy, possibly using a sea drone.

  • Rostov-on-Don and Minsk (13 September 2023): A Ukrainian Su-24 attack using Storm Shadow missiles resulted in the visible destruction of the Minsk landing ship and significant damage to the Kilo-class submarine Rostov-on-Don.

  • Askold (4 November 2023): Ukrainian forces targeted the Zalyv Shipbuilding yard in Russian-occupied Kerch, Crimea, with cruise missiles, damaging the relatively new Russian cruise missile-carrying corvette.

In conclusion, Ukraine's naval non-fleet has rewritten the script of naval warfare. By using innovative tactics and technology, they've shown that a little ingenuity and a lot of courage can triumph over numerical and technological superiority. This conflict serves as a potent reminder of the evolving nature of modern warfare, where David doesn’t just stand a chance against Goliath — he can actually win.


The article was prepared for publication by volunteers from the Res Publica - The Center for Civil Resistance.


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