Just days after satellite images showed Moscow had assembled two dozen long-range bombers at two of its strategic airbases, an official in Ukraine warned that Russian warships and submarines are deployed in the Black Sea.
The report has added to fears that Russia may be preparing to launch a new massive wave of attack on Ukraine.
The latest warning came Wednesday from Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman of the Odesa Oblast military administration, who said 13 Russian warships are currently deployed in the Black Sea, among them a submarine missile carrier armed with Kalibr cruise missiles.
“There are 13 enemy ships in the Black Sea. Among them is one submarine missile carrier,” Bratchuk reportedly said on Telegram.
According to Bratchuk, the warships deployed in the Black Sea will be able to launch joint salvos of four Kalibr cruise missiles at a time.
“We are talking about a group of enemy ships consisting of 13 combat units. Among them is a submarine that has four Kalibrs – one missile carrier,” Bratchuk is reported to have told Espreso TV.
Although Bratchuk hoped the inclement weather would hamper operations in the region, he noted the situation is being closely monitored by Ukrainian air defense.
The reported deployment of Russian warships in the Black Sea is significant as it comes after several successful attacks by Ukrainian forces using uncrewed surface vessels (USVs) and unmanned aerial vehicles, which forced Moscow to pull back its warships to port.
Meanwhile, as reported Friday, satellite imagery showed around two dozen Tupolev Tu-95 strategic bombers and Tupolev Tu-160 supersonic heavy were lined up at Engels-2 air base near the southwestern city of Saratov.
The German magazine Der Spiegel, which first reported the satellite images, said there was unusual activity and increased alert at the Engels-2 air base, indicating that Russia may be contemplating a new wave of massive attacks on Ukraine using long-range bombers.
Adding to the speculation, top military officials in Kyiv confirmed a new Russian strike in the coming days may be imminent.
However, marking a major turning point, Ukraine on Monday carried out a preemptive strike using modified Soviet-era long range drones on two Russian air bases — one at Engels-2 and another at Dyagilevo. Similarly, on Tuesday, Ukrainian forces hit an oil tank near an airfield in Kursk in western Russia located around 60 miles from the border.
Commenting on possibilities of Russia missile attacks, Kyrylo Budanov, head of the HUR (Main Directorate of Intelligence) of Ukraine’s defense ministry said Tuesday that Moscow continues to have enough missiles to conduct few more mass strikes on the country.
“Yes, in fact, the stockpile of high-precision weapons in the Russian Federation is already nearing its end,” Budanov reportedly said according to a report in The New Voice of Ukraine.
“They have long since reached a critical minimum. However, as we can see, they decided to go all the way, that is, to zero. Which, basically, is very bad for (Russia),” he elaborated.
“As we can see, they are certainly going for it. The production of new (missiles) is quite limited and only a few types of high-precision missiles are being produced,” Budanov further added.
Although Russia continues to produce new missiles despite sanctions, Budanov feels that the number of new missiles being produced is small in comparison to the number of missiles Moscow has used to carry out their attacks on Ukraine.
On Nov. 22, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov had tweeted that Russia’s remaining stockpile included 119 Iskander missiles, 6,980 S300 missiles, 229 Kalibr sea-based missiles, 132 Kh-101 air-based missiles and 150 Kh-555 air-based missiles.