Russia Accuses UK Of Sabotage; Says British Underwater UAVs Supplied To Ukraine Struck Its Warships

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has alleged that the United Kingdom (UK) armed Ukraine with unmanned underwater vehicles to launch an attack on the Russian Black Sea Fleet ships.

In late October, Ukrainian forces allegedly attacked the Crimean port of Sevastopol, home to Moscow’s Black Sea fleet. In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Russia announced that Ivan Golubets minesweeper had suffered minor damages.

However, soon after, social media was flooded with speculations and claims that Russia’s Black Sea flagship vessel Admiral Makarov had also suffered severe damage, with the hull breached and the radar system smashed.

Retaliating to the attack, Moscow suspended the UN-brokered grain export deal.

Videos on social media showed the attack, including explosions outside and within the Crimean harbor. The Russian defense ministry claimed that “the saboteurs used nine unmanned aerial vehicles and seven autonomous marine drones.”

According to Mikhail Razvozhaev, the Russian governor of Sevastopol, the raid on the port was the largest carried out by Ukraine against a naval base throughout the conflict.

In a new announcement, the Kremlin has accused Britain of providing these underwater drones to Ukraine, which were used to carry out “terrorist attacks” on the Crimean port. Moscow also lodged a diplomatic protest with the United Kingdom for aiding such an attack on its Black Sea fleet.

The British Ambassador Deborah Bronner was called to Smolenskaya Square, where there was a loud demonstration against London’s active involvement in Ukraine’s special operations forces training, Ria Novosti reported.

In the aftermath of the attack touted as an “act of terrorism,” Russian Defense Ministry accused the United Kingdom of planning and training the Ukrainian troops for its execution. The Ministry alleged that British specialists in Ochakovo trained military troops from the Ukrainian 73rd Special Center for Maritime Operations.

Additionally, it alleged that officials of this unit of the British Navy were involved in the terrorist act in the Baltic Sea on September 26 aimed at disrupting the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines.

According to the Russian media report, a special operations facility in Ochakovo serves as the foundation for the training of underwater “saboteurs.”

“On the coast and in the waters of the Black Sea near the cities of Odesa, Mykolaiv, and Ochakov, with the participation of British specialists, units of the Ukrainian Navy carried out diving descents, including a training demolition of the object,” the Foreign Ministry said.

The Ministry further alleged that about 15 British instructors trained the Ukrainian Armed Forces in autonomous underwater vehicles intended to destroy ships in August and September on Pervomaisky Island in the Dnieper Estuary, three kilometers south of Ochakov.

Uk minehunting drones Ukraine
File Image: British Minehunting Drone

Underwater UAVs: Ukraine’s New Weapon Of Choice?

Even though the underwater drones used to conduct the strike have not been revealed by either side, the UK announced in August 2022 that it was providing underwater drones to Ukraine and training its troops to use them to clear the Ukrainian coastline of mines.

The UK announced sending six autonomous mine-hunting vehicles to Ukraine to help the nation find Russian mines off its shore. The UK sent three units from its inventories and purchased the rest three from the manufacturer.

The compact autonomous vehicle is designed for shallow coastal environments and has various sensors to detect, locate, and identify mines. It can operate efficiently at depths of up to 100 meters.

The UK had said that the underwater drones were handed out to Ukraine as Russia weaponized food by damaging Ukrainian agriculture and closing its Black Sea ports to export.

However, according to the Kremlin, they were used to attack the Crimean port. Ironically, the attack led Russia to announce that it had suspended “participation in the implementation of agreements on the export of agricultural products from Ukrainian ports.”