Heavy losses

Putin fires head of the Black Sea fleet

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16.02.2024 10:50

In the war of aggression against Ukraine, Russia has suffered heavy losses in the Black Sea in recent weeks. Now ruler Vladimir Putin has apparently drawn the consequences: He has reportedly fired the commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Viktor Sokolov. Kiev had claimed that he was killed last year.

According to Russian military bloggers, Sokolov has been replaced by Vice Admiral Sergei Pinchuk, previously the fleet's chief of staff. According to reports, the admiral's brother confirmed his dismissal by the Ministry of Defense. The reason for this is likely to be the recent setbacks off the Ukrainian coast. It was only on Wednesday that a large Russian landing ship was sunk near the Crimean peninsula during an attack with sea drones, and a missile ship was destroyed at the beginning of February.

Every fifth ship in the fleet lost
According to the influential Russian war propagandist Roman Saponkov, Admiral Sokolov bears direct responsibility for the losses. He had banned the installation of technologically advanced equipment for detecting sea drones on ships of the Black Sea Fleet because they were not up to standard. As a result, the fleet has lost around twenty percent of its strength under Sokolov's command, which he has held since 2022.

The Russian fleet has been significantly weakened by Ukrainian attacks. According to the Ukrainian navy, the Russian Black Sea Fleet had almost 80 warships at the start of the invasion almost two years ago, around 35 of which were "heavily armed". By February 15, 26 ships had been destroyed and a further 15 severely damaged.

The vulnerability of the fleet is also shown by the fact that the missile ship "Caesar Kunikov" was sunk on February 14 - the same day that its namesake, a Soviet officer, was killed in 1943. Military experts rule out a coincidence.

Kiev has already declared the admiral dead
The news that Sokolov has now been relieved of his post is also remarkable because the admiral is said to have been killed in September 2023. According to information from Kiev, he was killed in a missile attack on the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet. Even when he was seen on Russian TV footage afterwards, doubts remained. Now it should be clear: Sokolov is alive, but has lost his job.

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