Ukrainian forces have deployed Harpoon anti-ship missiles to the Black Sea as a counter to Russian surface ships in the region, Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov said.
Denmark provided the U.S.-built anti-ship missiles to Kyiv, the Pentagon announced last month. The new Harpoon costal defense battery joined the Ukrainian Navy’s domestically-produced Neptune anti-ship missiles.
“Our coastal defense was strengthened by highly effective Harpoon complexes,” Reznikov said in a translation of a Thursday address.
“Together with our Neptunes, the Harpoons are already forcing the enemy fleet to keep the distance to avoid the fate of the Russian Black Sea Fleet flagship Moskva.”
Two land-based Neptune missiles, based on a modified Soviet-era copy of a Harpoon, were used to sink the Slava-class cruiser RTS Moskva (121) on April 13.
The Danish military has used land-based RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block IIs that are capable of not only hitting ships at sea, but also targets in port and on land with an upgrade from the Boeing Advanced Harpoon Weapon Control System, reported USNI News last month.
“This expands Harpoon’s capability to attack coastal, in harbor and land targets such as shore defense sites, [surface-to-air missile] sites, exposed aircraft, port/industrial facilities and ships in port,” reads a 1999 press release from Boeing on the sale of the system to the Danish Naval Material Command.
Ukrainian forces have sought to break the Russian Navy blockade of Odesa to allow grain shipments out of the country.
“The situation is very complicated,” Sergey Bratchuk, a spokesman for the Odesa military district, told World-Grain.com on Thursday.
“The ports are not working at all, they are blocked completely. Ukraine cannot export the grain that it has agreed to export before the beginning of the big war.”
In addition to Russian surface ships, approaches out of Odesa have been heavily mined with the Ukrainian MoD accusing Russian forces of setting drifting sea mines.
In his address, Reznikov called for more modern NATO systems to replace Soviet ground systems to include long-range, heavy weapons.
“I cannot say that I am satisfied with the tempo and quantity of weapon supplies. Absolutely not. But at the same time, I am extremely grateful to the countries that support us. In particular, to the Unites States of America, the United Kingdom, Poland and our Baltic friends. And to all other states that help repel Russian evil,” he said.
“We have already received, bought on the market, manufactured and handed over to the Armed Forces of Ukraine a significant number of weapons. These numbers would have been enough for a victorious defense operation against any army in Europe. But not against Russia.”