The Russian Federation is systematically advancing in the Donbass and concentrating ships of the Black Sea Fleet (BSF) in the Odessa direction. The Armed Forces of Ukraine (APU) in the Black Sea are making attempts to destroy the oil and gas facilities of the Russian Federation, as well as military positions on the island of Serpents. Attempts by the Armed Forces of Ukraine to create the prerequisites for a counteroffensive on Kherson and Mariupol are noticeable.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine do not intend to abandon the opposition to the forces of the Russian Federation in the Black Sea. The Armed Forces of Ukraine announced the sinking of the tug “Rescuer Vasily Bekh” (there are no comments from the Russian authorities) and tried to destroy the drilling platforms of Chornomorneftegaz. Ukraine is apparently trying to demonstrate the effectiveness of anti-ship weapons supplied by the US and other NATO countries.
The British Ministry of Defense, following the Ukrainian media, reports that the tug was hit by Harpoon cruise missiles.
According to Crimean Senator Olga Kovitidi, the fire on the platforms is still “not possible to localize, the fire has spread to the well.” On Tuesday, the search for seven missing workers continued, with three injured hospitalized. On Monday, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation announced the initiation of a criminal case into the shelling of Russian civilian facilities at sea. It is possible that among the accused there will also be specific individuals from the United States who supplied and trained the Ukrainian military in the skills of firing anti-ship weapons.
So far, military assistance from the United States and NATO is in Kyiv’s hands. Military analysts have been noting for several days in a row that after receiving new weapons, Ukrainian forces are active around Serpent Island, which was taken under control by the Russian Federation in the first days of the special operation. The return of Serpentine, which occupies an important geographical position, under the control of Kyiv will create the prerequisites for unblocking Ukrainian ports, and also threatens the ships of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation. Such a conclusion can be drawn from the statements of the head of the Odessa military administration, Dmitry Marchenko, who spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on June 18. It was after the latter’s visit to Odessa that a new round of Ukraine’s military activity in the Black Sea began.
Reports began to appear on social networks that the ships of the Black Sea Fleet (BSF) allegedly “with full ammunition lined up in battle formations and are heading towards Odessa.” The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation did not comment on these messages. On Monday and on the night of Tuesday, it was announced that at least 15 missile strikes were carried out by the Russian Federation on targets in the Odessa region. Allegedly destroyed warehouses and logistics hubs in Ochakov, Odessa and Belgorod-Dnestrovsky. According to Russian radio intelligence, the Armed Forces of Ukraine put the coastal forces on alert. Thus, there are some signs that the center of the military confrontation between Moscow and Kyiv is now shifting to the western Black Sea.
The ex-Minister of Defense of the DPR, Colonel of the Reserve Igor Strelkov, wrote in his Telegram channel that if a decision was really made to “retaliate” for attacks on oil rigs and send Black Sea Fleet ships to the shores of Odessa, then this is a huge mistake, because the enemy is deliberately provoking these attacks precisely a similar reaction: “And then the fleet goes to the area where they are impatiently waiting for it … However, it is quite likely that we are talking about the urgent need to defend the Snake Island, about an imminent attack on which they wrote the last two or three days. But even in this case, the enemy is clearly waiting and provoking.”
“It would be naive to believe that Black Sea Fleet ships would so easily approach Ukrainian shores, let alone start a landing operation on Ukrainian territory,” said military expert, retired colonel Volodymyr Popov. – In conditions when the Armed Forces of Ukraine received American anti-ship missiles, this is fraught with new losses. However, being at certain safe lines, ships and submarines of the Black Sea Fleet can organize missile firing at coastal targets. And thus prevent the Armed Forces of Ukraine from taking Snake Island under their control.” The expert does not rule out that after the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation solve problems in the south-east of Ukraine, Russian units will launch an attack on Nikolaev and further on Odessa. “This maneuver with support from the sea can have an effect. But so far, there are no prerequisites for a large-scale offensive in the south. Since the forces of the Russian army and allied forces were concentrated in the Donbass – in the Severodonetsk and Slavic directions, ”Popov notes.
Against this background, observers predict possible counter-offensive actions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on Kherson and in the Volnovakha region – on Mariupol. A number of Telegram channels reported on preparations for the transfer to the “Nikolaev Front” of the units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine that are covering the border with Belarus, including one full-blooded mechanized brigade of the reserve corps. The reserve formations of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are also being completed and prepared for combat operations near Krivoy Rog. The 60th infantry and 45th artillery brigades of the reserve corps were withdrawn to the area of this city. And in the Donbass, units of the 53-1 and 54th mechanized, 56th motorized infantry and 25th airborne brigades are preparing for the offensive. All of them are reinforced with tank units, and together with them they are preparing to bring into battle a mechanized brigade of the reserve corps, which is now being transferred from Kyiv. It is expected that they will be able to operate in the Volnovakha direction, allegedly advancing on Mariupol. At the same time, on the border of the Donetsk and Zaporozhye regions, the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine continues to maintain the 1st tank brigade, increasing the grouping with the forces of the 44th artillery brigade, equipped with American 155-mm M777 howitzers and German FH70.