Russia has likely withdrawn its most powerful attack submarines from their home port in Crimea for fear they are susceptible to long-range Ukrainian attacks, according to British intelligence.
Sightings of Project 636.3 submarines were once a regular occurrence around their homeport of Sevastopol, the peninsula’s capital, illegally annexed by Moscow in 2014.
But now British military officials believe they have been relocated to Novorossiysk in Krasnodar Krai, southern Russia, because of Ukraine’s enhanced long-range capabilities.
“The Russian Black Sea Fleet command has almost certainly moved its Kilo-class submarines from their home port of Sevastopol in Crimea to Novorossiysk in Krasnodar Krai, southern Russia,” the defense ministry said Tuesday.
“This is most likely due to the recent change in the local security threat level in light of the increased Ukrainian long-range attack capability. In the past two months, the fleet headquarters and the main naval airfield have been attacked.
“Guaranteeing the Black Sea Fleet base in Crimea was likely one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s motivations to annex the peninsula in 2014. The security of the base is now directly undermined by Russia’s continued aggression against Ukraine.”