Russian Navy Taking on Resupply Role Nearly 50 Days Into Ukrainian Invasion

April 11, 2022 6:29 PM
Amphibious warship RTS Olenegorsky Gornyak (012) entering the Black Sea on Feb. 9, 2022. Photo by Yörük Işık‏ used with permission

Russian Navy ships in the Black Sea are currently resupplying troops in Ukraine instead of playing an offensive role, a senior defense official said Monday.

Day 47 into the Ukrainian invasion, and the Russian Navy continues to mostly support the invasion. The country has a couple dozen ships in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, the senior defense official told reporters.

Those ships have contributed to some missile strikes in the Donbas region, but those are a small percentage of the Russian missile attacks, the senior defense official said.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters Monday that there are no indications the ships are there for minesweeping operations and that the Department of Defense believes the ships are part of resupply efforts for the south of the Donbas region.

“I can’t read out Russian naval activity with any great level of specificity,” Kirby said.

The United Kingdom has pledged to send anti-ship missiles to Ukraine, although it is unclear what kind.

The senior defense official could not say what missiles the British were sending, referring reporters to Downing Street. He did confirm that the United Kingdom announced they would send coastal defense cruise missiles.

A U.K. defense official told USNI News on Monday the missiles were short-range, Soviet-era anti-ship weapons.

About half a dozen of the Russian warships are in the Sea of Azov, most of them surface combatants, the defense official said. They are there to help resupply efforts in Mariupol, the official added.

Mariupol remains in Ukrainian hands, although the city is still seeing heavy fighting. The city’s mayor said 10,000 civilians have died so far in the siege, predicting that the death toll will be higher, according to The Associated Press.

“I think we’re all bracing for when the rest of the world gets to see what happens in Mariupol, what has happened [during the siege],” the senior defense official said. “I think we’re certainly bracing ourselves here for some potentially really, really horrible outcomes.”

While Russia saw more success in the southern part of Ukraine than it did in the north, troops still failed to achieve the goal of capturing population centers like Mariupol, the defense official said.

“They have been no closer to taking Mariupol today than they were last week,” the official said.

Mykolaiv is also still under Ukrainian control, while Kherson is currently controlled by Russian troops. The areas between Mykolaiv and Kherson are contested.

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio is a reporter with USNI News. She has a master’s degree in science journalism and has covered local courts, crime, health, military affairs and the Naval Academy.
Follow @hmongilio

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