Satellite images show Russia's been upgrading its Black Sea Fleet naval base after being pounded by Ukraine's attacks: UK defense ministry

  • Russia has been fortifying its Black Sea Fleet naval base, says the UK's defense ministry.

  • The ministry added that the Black Sea Fleet has become less active after its commander was replaced.

  • Russia's navy has suffered significant losses since the Ukraine war began in 2022.

Russia has been beefing up the defenses for its Black Sea Fleet naval base in Novorossiysk, the UK's defense ministry said in an intelligence dispatch on Thursday.

The "maintenance, logistics and weapons-handling infrastructure at Novorossiysk has highly likely been improved," the ministry wrote in an X post, citing a satellite photo it had obtained.

The UK's defense ministry noted in its update that the Black Sea Fleet "has largely withdrawn its ships and submarines from Sevastopol further eastwards to Novorossiysk."

Basing the fleet at Novorossiysk, the ministry said, was the fleet's "best method of avoiding Ukrainian sea-borne attack."

Russia's naval forces have suffered significant losses since the Ukraine war began in February 2022. In February, the head of the UK's armed forces, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin estimated that 25% of Russia's vessels in the Black Sea had been sunk or damaged.

Ukraine's success in naval warfare also resulted in the replacement of the Black Sea Fleet's former commander, Admiral Viktor Sokolov, with Vice Admiral Sergei Pinchuk.

"The fleet has been the least active since the war began," the UK's defense ministry said on Thursday, noting that the shift had taken place following Sokolov's removal in March.

The focus on the Black Sea, by both the Russians and Ukrainians, underscores the importance of the maritime trading route. For Ukraine, access to the Black Sea has been critical for exporting the country's grain and foodstuffs.

This isn't the first time the Russians have tried to shore up their naval defenses to stave off future Ukrainian attacks.

Last month, the UK's defense ministry said it had "identified four barges positioned at the entrance to the Black Sea Fleet facility of Novorossiysk Sea Port."

"Pinchuk, has likely sought to improve the survival chances of Russian vessels by adopting further preventative and defensive measures, including narrowing the entrance gap to port facilities," the UK defense ministry wrote on March 31.

Representatives for the Russian defense ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider sent outside regular business hours.

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