(BBC) – Western officials say that Ukraine’s recent ability to strike deep behind the lines in Russian-occupied Crimea is having both an operational and a psychological effect on Russia’s military.
They estimate that the explosions at Russia’s Saki airbase on 9 August, and other attacks, have put more than half of its Black Sea fleet’s naval aviation out of action.
This, combined with the loss of its flagship, the Moskva, sunk by Ukrainian missiles, and Russia’s hurried abandonment of Snake Island, has reduced the once-proud Black Sea fleet to little more than a coastal flotilla that is now having to adopt a cautious, defensive posture.
The officials, who were speaking unattributably on background, doubted the ability of Russia to threaten an assault on the Ukrainian port of Odesa any time soon.
The fact that the explosions in Crimea, in a place previously considered to be well beyond the reach of any Ukrainian attack, were watched by thousands of Russian tourists, many of whom have since fled Crimea back into Russia, has had a psychological effect in Moscow, say officials.
There is still some confusion about whether the commander of Russia’s Black Sea fleet has been replaced or not.