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Ukrainian attack on Russia's Novorossiysk port had strategic importance, although partners were unhappy – Ukrainska Pravda

Monday, 1 January 2024, 15:07
Ukrainian attack on Russia's Novorossiysk port had strategic importance, although partners were unhappy – Ukrainska Pravda
Olenegorsky Gornyak landing ship tank (LST) of the Russian Navy. Photo: Telegram

The attack on the port of Novorossiysk, Russia, in August 2023 was strategically crucial for resuming the operations of the grain corridor. However, international partners expressed their dissatisfaction with Ukraine's actions afterwards.

Source: an article by Ukrainska Pravda "Sea drones, Elon Musk, and high-precision missiles: How Ukraine dominates in the Black Sea"

Details: The Ukrainska Pravda article says Russia's withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative in July 2023 led to an immediate intensification of missile and drone attacks on Ukrainian ports. The Russians targeted the entire Odesa Oblast, ranging from the port town of Chornomorsk to the settlements of Vylkove and Reni.


Ukraine found itself under a naval blockade once again. However, Ukrainska Pravda believes Kyiv had foreseen this scenario and had a plan to break the blockade.

During a meeting with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy in July, a decision was made that Russia should, firstly, receive a military response for its attacks on Ukrainian port infrastructure. And secondly, a clear signal should be sent that there are no places in the Black Sea where Russia's warships are out of reach for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

The Ukrainian security forces and the government had two tasks: to ensure the operation of the new grain corridor and to drive away and destroy all Russian vessels capable of carrying missiles.


The first objective was met by proving the vulnerability of Russia's ports.

A new Ukrainian drone went to sea on the night of 3-4 August 2023. It was another project by Ukraine's Security Service, an experimental design called Mamai.

Mamai is a kamikaze drone with a smaller warhead than the SeaBaby drone – 450 kilograms. Its high speed allows it to reach virtually any location in the Black Sea. Its combat mission required precisely such capabilities as it was heading to the port of Novorossiysk.

It was there that some of the warships of Russia's Black Sea Fleet had moved from occupied Crimea after several Ukrainian UAV attacks.

The Russian target the Mamai managed to hit was the large Olenegorsky Gornyak landing ship tank (LST), which made headlines on 4 August. Ukraine had hit Russia at its most sensitive sore spot at sea.

A day later, a Mamai struck the Sig tanker, which was being handled by Russia's Defence Ministry.

This was a direct message to Russia that the war on ports could become mutual.

"You should understand that any incidents at sea are also disadvantageous to the Russians. This immediately leads to higher insurance and freight costs. For global insurance companies, the entire Black Sea is one region. And should anything happen in [Ukraine's] Odesa or [Russia's] Novorossiysk, the insurance costs surge across the region simultaneously," explained Yurii Vaskov, Ukraine's Deputy Infrastructure Minister.

Ukraine estimated that Russia's economic losses from the two attacks on Novorossiysk alone amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars.

However, Russia is not the only one. Novorossiysk is also a vast oil transshipment hub. Through this port, oil giants from the United States export Kazakh oil. "Grey exports" of Russian oil under the guise of other brands also come from here.

The game Ukraine was playing involved very high stakes, with the country's leadership, as Ukrainska Pravda found, receiving "warnings" from partners at all levels. Nevertheless, this game paid off. Russia loosened its grip, and Ukraine announced its own temporary sea corridor without Moscow on 10 August.

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