Fearing a new Russian threat, Ukraine rushes to upgrade its navy

The threat, the officer and many of Ukraine’s allies believe, comes from Russia.

“We do not know which president [Vladimir] Putin’s intentions are, but we know what happened in the past, “Blinken said on Saturday during a trip to Senegal, referring to Russian military incursions, recognized or not, in neighboring countries.

“We know the playbook of trying to cite some illusory provocation from Ukraine or any other country and then using that as an excuse to do what Russia plans to do from the start.”

The Kremlin has responded by accusing Western countries of “hysteria” over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Two Ukrainian artillery patrol boats, the Kremenchuk and the Ackerman.

Force jacket

With tensions high in the region, CNN joined the Ukrainian navy ship departing from Berdyansk on the Ukrainian coast of Azov. Usually Commander Ovchar’s crew meets six or seven Russian coast guard patrol boats, he says, but on this mission, there were none.

The sea he is patrolling borders Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Moscow after a controversial referendum in 2014, in violation of international law.

Since taking over Crimea, Russia has built a bridge linking it to its own territory. The Kerch Bridge over the Kerch Strait serves as the only direct connection between Russia and Crimea, and gives Moscow de facto control of the sea’s access to the Black Sea and the Mediterranean beyond.

But Ukraine has a plan to try to prevent Moscow from taking full control of the body of water that links Ukraine’s two largest ports, Berdyansk and Mariupol.

Ukraine’s new Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov announced on November 13 that the pace of construction of a new naval port in Berdyansk would be increased.

On Tuesday, CNN gained exclusive access to the “Sehid” or “Este” base under construction.

It was immediately clear that there was still a lot of work to be done to make this base almost complete.

The Berdyansk port area, where the new docks and modern facilities for warships will soon be built.

The goal was to complete the first phase of construction – new homes, administrative buildings and a small medical facility on the site of a disused tin factory – before the end of the year. However, with less than six weeks to go, there was not even a roof on the main building.

A special detachment of military builders worked with masonry, pounding concrete and laying bricks, while a Ukrainian flag flew as they worked.

The scale of the task at hand became even more severe when we went down to the port, attached to a commercial port.

Construction of a housing facility in the port of Berdyansk has been underway since September.  The Ukrainian military says it has accelerated construction and crews are now working seven days a week.

“This will be the position of the docks,” said Captain Second Class Alexander Serdiyk, pointing to piles of warped metal and rocks that lay randomly in the sea. “We plan to have this section complete in two years.”

But Ukraine may not have two years to prepare for conflict.

The head of Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Agency, Brigadier General Kyrylo Budanov, told the US defense newspaper. Military times that Russia was increasing troop levels and weapons systems in Crimea for an offensive that could come at any moment.
The construction site of the new base, where residential, medical and administrative buildings are being built.

The Kremlin has repeatedly said it has no plans to invade Ukraine.

“The US and Ukrainian media claim that Russia is preparing for an attack against Ukraine, and we say that Ukraine is planning hostilities against Donbas, against the self-proclaimed republics of Lugansk and Donetsk,” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday. . “We are deeply concerned about the provocative actions of the Ukrainian armed forces on the line of contact and the preparations for an attempt to forcibly resolve the Donbas problem.”

Ukraine’s allies have begun to respond to what they see as a new threat from their eastern neighbor.

On Monday, CNN reported that the Biden administration was weighing the possibility of shipment of military advisers and new equipment, including weapons, to Ukraine. The package could include Javelin anti-tank missiles, anti-armor missiles and mortars.

The United States is also considering imposing sanctions on European allies if Russia invades Ukraine.

Why chaos in Eastern Europe is never bad news for Vladimir Putin

Last week, British Defense Minister Ben Wallace visited Ukraine and signed an agreement to “develop the capabilities of Ukraine’s naval forces.” CNN learned Tuesday that part of the deal will focus on Berdyansk.

On the same day, the Ukrainian navy announced the arrival of two “island-type” ships called “Fastiv” and “Sumy”, delivered from Baltimore in the United States to Odessa in Ukraine.

“Soon the ships will fly the flag of the Ukrainian navy and under the command of the Ukrainian crews they will begin their combat voyage to ensure maritime security in the Black and Azov seas,” Admiral Alexey Neizhpapa said.

The bigger question is whether the new Ukrainian ships and infrastructure, plus the warnings from the West, will be a sufficient deterrent.


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