March 24, 2024

Institute for the Study of War: Ukraine attacks Black Sea Fleet communications center, oil depot and two landing ships

Institute for the Study of War

Ukrainian forces struck a Black Sea Fleet (BSF) communications center in occupied Sevastopol, Crimea, and reportedly struck an oil depot and at least partially damaged two BSF landing ships on the night of March 23. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on March 24 that Ukrainian forces successfully struck the BSF’s Yamal and Azov Ropucha-class landing ships, a BSF communications center, and several unspecified BSF infrastructure facilities in Sevastopol. A Kremlin-affiliated milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces launched over 40 Storm Shadow and Neptune missiles, ADM-160 decoy missiles, and drones during the strike. Geolocated footage published on March 24 shows a missile strike on the BSF communications center, and satellite imagery published on March 24 shows significant damage to the building. Russian opposition outlet Astra posted footage reportedly of an explosion at an oil depot in occupied Hvardiiske (northeast of Sevastopol) and reported that its sources stated that three tanks of petroleum products and a warehouse burned as a result of the drone strike. Ukrainian Navy Spokesperson Captain Third Rank Dmytro Pletenchuk stated that Ukrainian officials initially confirmed that the Yamal and Azov landing ships sustained fire damage but are still assessing the extent of the damage to the ships. Pletenchuk noted that the BSF currently has only five landing ships and that only three will remain operational if the Ukrainian strike seriously damaged the Yamal and Azov. ISW previously assessed that Ukrainian strikes against BSF assets caused the BSF to move some ships away from its main base in Sevastopol and hampered its ability to operate in the western part of the Black Sea. Ukrainian officials have recently reported that other BSF bases are structurally inferior to the one in Sevastopol and that Russian forces must still perform some tasks, such as reloading Kalibr missile systems on ships and submarines, in Sevastopol as other bases lack the capacity to handle such missiles. The latest Ukrainian strikes targeting BSF ships, regardless of the extent of the damage caused, will likely continue to deter Russian forces from redeploying ships to Sevastopol and the western Black Sea and complicate the BSF’s ability to maximize its combat capabilities.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukrainian forces struck a Black Sea Fleet (BSF) communications center in occupied Sevastopol, Crimea, and reportedly struck an oil depot and at least partially damaged two BSF landing ships on the night of March 23.
  • Russian forces conducted a series of drone and missile strikes against Ukrainian energy infrastructure on the night of February 23 to 24, mainly targeting southern and western Ukraine.
  • Russian forces are reportedly approaching the outskirts of Chasiv Yar, Donetsk Oblast but are unlikely to threaten the settlement with encirclement or seizure in the coming months.
  • The seizure of Chasiv Yar would offer Russian forces limited but not insignificant operational benefits if they could achieve it.
  • The Islamic State’s (IS) Amaq News Agency published footage on March 23 purportedly filmed from the perspective of the attackers involved in the March 22 Crocus City Hall attack.
  • Russian officials proposed more anti-migrant policies in response to the Crocus City Hall attack.
  • Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov expressed concerns about Russian ultranationalist reactions to the Crocus City Hall attack.
  • Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Donetsk City amid continued positional fighting along the entire line of contact on March 24.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law on March 23 establishing a legal basis for enrolling members of the All-Russian Cossack Society into the Russian military’s mobilization reserve, likely as part of ongoing crypto-mobilization and milit: ary formalization efforts.
For full report:    https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-24-2024 )
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