Winning a War at Sea without Warships (part 2)
Expanding the area of sea denial and the ongoing Battle of Sevastopol
As what was supposed to be just the first part of the midweek substack last week ended up being rather lengthy, I ended up deciding to cut it into parts. This is part 2 which starts approximately after the sinking of the Black Sea Fleet’s flagship, the guided Missile Cruiser Moskva.
The sinking of the Moskva was accomplished by the Ukrainian homegrown Neptune anti-ship missile. The immediate reaction of the Russians to this was to pull their surface vessels away from the Ukrainian shore, to stay safely out of range.
You can take a quick look at this, if you want to re-familiarize yourself with concepts like sea denial and sea control.
In pulling back out of range, the Russians something similar to what they d with their supply depots in the summer of 2022, once the Ukrainians started methodically destroying them with HIMARS. As the Russians had no effective counter to the new system, they basically adjusted by limiting the targets that could be attacked. This allowed the Ukrainians to do things such as land on Snake Island, but beyond that, the Russians still had the much stronger upper hand when it came to the war at sea. This can be seen in the relative ability to institute blockade.
When the Russians first launched their full scale invasion, they instituted a blockade of Ukrainian ports, trapping 20 million tons of grain that could no longer be shipped out.1 This led to the steep rise in world grain prices which seemed a part of Putin’s plan to gain global support to put pressure on Ukraine to settle on Russian terms. The sinking of the Moskva and the withdrawal of Russian ships from Ukrainian shores complicated this blockade, but didnt end it right away. Russian ships could stay far enough from shore that they could be safe and still threaten the merchant ships. Certainly none of the merchant ships that found themselves blockaded in Ukrainian ports considered it worth the risk to load up with grain and try to sail out.
Now, in the short term this issue seemed to settle down because of the Turkish-brokered grain deal, which allowed for the grain trade to resume. This was accomplished last July2, and seemed to lead to a decrease in attention in the sea war.
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