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Russia changes Black Sea Fleet commander amid Crimea attack

The Kremlin reportedly took over the Black Sea Fleet commander aftera series of apparent Ukrainian attacks on occupied Crimea, where the Black Sea Fleet's bases are located. was banished.

Vice Admiral Viktor Sokolov was appointed commander of the fleet on Wednesday,the Russian state media RIA reportedciting unnamed sources. . Sokolov expels Admiral Igor Osipov, who has been in command of the fleet since 2019.

A change of leadership has taken place as Russia's momentum in Ukraine falters and a series of explosions in Crimea signal the start of a Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Admiral Igor Osipov
Sputnik via AP

The Russian newspaper Kommersant No. When he is appointed, it will be officially announced."

The turmoil in Sevastopol is remarkable given the symbolic importance of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. Since the late 18th century, the Crimea-based battle group has been home to Imperial Russian warships.

Russia continued to operate outside Crimea after the collapse of the Soviet Union in a deal with the newly independent Ukraine.

In 2014, Russian forces annexed the peninsula and declared it part of Russia, a declaration rejected by Kyiv and the West.

Since the invasion began, the Crimea-based fleet has been a major threat to Ukrainian port cities like Odessa. The fleet's guided-missile cruisers have also become a key component of Russian artillery bombardment of Ukrainian cities.

The fleet gained a black eye in April after Ukrainian anti-ship missiles sank its flagship Moscow.

According to a UK Defense Ministry update this week, the fleet is in a "very defensive posture" in waters off Crimea and has barely crossed the coast.

The "limited effectiveness of the Russian fleet undermines Russia's overall strategy of aggression," Britain said. "This means Ukraine can divert resources and push Russian ground forces elsewhere."

Vice-Admiral Viktor Sokolov
49} Sputnik via AP

Its assessment is that Ukraine has been in the Kherson province, north of occupied Crimea, and after a series of unexplained explosions on the peninsula.

Last week a series of explosions rocked a Russian airfield in the Saki region of Crimea, destroying several attack aircraft and leaving a crater on satellite imagery.

Russian officials denied that the aircraft had been destroyed and blamed the large explosion on an accident at an ammunition depot.

Detonation of ammunition as a result of a fire on the territory of the temporary ammunition storage site of one of the military units in the village of Mayskoye
Via Sipa USA AP

More explosions were reported on Tuesday. Ammunition depot and another airfield. Russian officials called it a "sabotage" but gave no further information.

Ukrainian authorities have neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the attacks.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mikhaylo Podoljak hinted at doing more on Tuesday. 

"I certainly agree with the Russian Defense Ministry predicting more incidents of this kind in the next few months," he told The Guardian. .