Fearing a new threat from Russia, Ukraine races to upgrade its navy

The threat, which Ukraine’s officers and many allies believe, comes from Russia.

“We do not know what the President [Vladimir] Such is Putin’s intention, but we know what has happened in the past,” Blinken said Saturday during a trip to Senegal, referring to Russia’s military aggressions, acknowledged or not. , into neighboring countries.

“We know well that the play is to try to invoke some vain provocation from Ukraine or any other country and then use that as an excuse to do what Russia has always intended to do. .”

The Kremlin responded by accusing Western countries of “hysteria” about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Two Ukrainian artillery patrol boats, Kremenchuk and Ackerman.

Waist coat

With tensions high in the region, CNN joined a Ukrainian naval vessel that sailed from Berdyansk on Ukraine’s Azov coast. Normally, Commander Ovchar’s crew passed by six or seven Russian coast guard patrol boats, he said, but on this mission there were none.

The waters he was patrolling bordered Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Moscow after a controversial referendum in 2014, in violation of international law.

Since taking Crimea, Russia has built a bridge connecting it with its territory. The Kerch Bridge over the Kerch Strait serves as the only direct connection between Russia and Crimea – and gives Moscow de facto control over access to the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.

But Ukraine plans to try to prevent Moscow from taking full control of the waters connecting Ukraine’s two largest ports, Berdyansk and Mariupol.

The new Defense Minister of Ukraine, Oleksiy Reznikov, announced on November 13 that the speed of construction of a new naval port in Berdyansk will be increased.

On Tuesday, CNN gained exclusive access to the “Sehid” or “East” base under construction.

It is clear that there is still a lot of work to be done before this base is nearing completion.

Berdyansk port area, where new harbors and modern facilities for naval ships will soon be built.

The aim is to complete the first phase of construction – new residences, administrative buildings and a small medical facility on the site of a used tin factory – by the end of the year. However, with less than six weeks to go, the main building didn’t even have a roof.

A special detachment of military builders worked with masonry, pounding cement and laying bricks, a Ukrainian flag fluttering as they worked.

The scale of the task ahead became even more serious as we stepped down into the port, entering a commercial port.

Construction of a housing facility in the port of Berdyansk has been underway since September.  The Ukrainian military says it has accelerated construction and crews are now working several days a week.

“This will be the location of the docks,” said 2nd Class Captain Alexander Serdiyk, gesturing at the pile of warped metal and scattered rocks in the sea. “We plan to finish this part in two years.”

But Ukraine may not have two years to prepare for conflict.

The head of Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Service, Brigadier General Kyrylo Budanov, told the US defense newspaper Military Times that Russia is increasing numbers and weapons systems in Crimea for an attack that could happen at any time.
New base construction site, where housing, medical and administrative buildings are springing up.

The Kremlin has repeatedly said it has no plans to invade Ukraine.

“The US and Ukrainian media claim that Russia is preparing an attack on Ukraine, and we say that Ukraine is planning hostility to the Donbas, against the self-proclaimed republics of Luhansk and Donetsk. “, Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, said on Tuesday. . “We are deeply concerned about the provocative actions of the Ukrainian armed forces on the line of communication and prepare for a vigorous attempt to resolve the Donbas issue.”

Ukraine’s allies have begun to respond to what they see as a new threat from its eastern neighbour.

On Monday, CNN reported that the Biden administration was weighing the possibility send military advisors and new equipment, including weapons, to Ukraine. The package may include Javelin anti-tank missiles, anti-armor missiles and mortars.

The United States is also weighing sanctions against its European allies if Russia invades Ukraine.

Why chaos in Eastern Europe is never bad news for Vladimir Putin

Last week, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace visited Ukraine and signed an agreement to “develop the capabilities of the Ukrainian navy.” CNN was made aware on Tuesday that part of the deal would focus on Berdyansk.

On the same day, the Ukrainian navy announced the arrival of two “Island Type” ships named “Fastiv” and “Sumy,” delivered from Baltimore in the United States to Odessa in Ukraine.

Admiral Alexey Neizhpapa said: “Shortly after that, the ships will raise the Ukrainian navy flag and, under the command of the Ukrainian crew, they will begin their combat journey to ensure the safety of navigation in the area. Black Sea and Sea of ​​Azov”.

The bigger question is whether Ukraine’s new ships and infrastructure, plus warnings from the West, will be enough of a deterrent.


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