Russia deploys vessels in response to possible ‘threat’ at Black Sea base

Russia deploys vessels in response to possible ‘threat’ at Black Sea base

Russia has dispatched ten naval vessels following the detection of a possible “threat” to a Black Sea port, British defence chiefs have said.

According to the Ministry of Defence, 10 vessels from Russia’s Black Sea fleet left the Novorossiysk naval facility on January 11.

The deployment “is likely a fleet dispersal” in response “to a specific threat to Novorossiysk that Russia believes it has identified”, the update said.

“It is highly unlikely that the fleet is preparing for amphibious assault operations,” the update added.

The MoD said the fleet “largely remains fixed by perceived threats from Ukraine and continues to prioritise force protection over offensive or patrol operations”.

“Given the type and number of vessels putting to sea at the same time, the activity is likely a fleet dispersal in response to a specific threat to Novorossiysk that Russia believes it has identified.”

It comes as Russia claimed yesterday that its forces had captured the town of Soledar in east Ukraine in what would be its first victory in around six months.

Ukraine insisted the announcement was premature and denied the Russians had control, saying “severe fighting” was ongoing in the key salt-mining town.

However, there were reports of Ukrainian forces being seen withdrawing in an apparent controlled retreat.

The Russian defence ministry said it had “completed the liberation” of Soledar and that the victory would pave the way for more “successful offensive operations” in the Donetsk region.

The Russian army also praised the “courageous” forces of the Wagner Group in an unusual recognition of the private fighting force.

“This combat mission was successfully implemented by the courageous and selfless actions of the volunteers of the Wagner assault squads,” the defence ministry said.