Russia Learns To ‘Cripple’ Ukrainian Kamikaze Sea Drones; Commander Admits Moscow ‘Mauling’ Its USVs

Ukrainian Navy Commander Alexey Neizhpapa acknowledged that Russian forces have successfully developed strategies to counter Ukrainian sea drone attacks.

In an interview with Ukraiynskaya Pravda, Neizhpapa acknowledged the dynamic nature of the conflict, stating that tactics and strategies effective in 2022 and 2023 may no longer prove successful in 2024.

“As we use technology [USVs], the enemy develops countermeasures,” he said. “Some of our tricks and utilization tactics, which worked in 2022 and 2023, will not pass in 2024. So, you need to change tactics, change the technical specifications of everything you do.”

Highlighting the imminent shift towards a period of “very heavy drone wars,” the Ukrainian Navy is gearing up for an era where unmanned aerial vehicles play a pivotal role in military engagements. 

Neizhpapa underscored the need for adaptability and suggested that staying ahead in this technological arms race requires constant innovation and adjustments to military strategies.

Ukrainian ingenuity is ushering in a new form of warfare at sea
Ukrainian USVs. United24

The Russian Defense Ministry has been consistently reporting successful strikes on Ukrainian uncrewed boats in the Black Sea. 

Recent instances include a patrol speedboat of the Russian Black Sea Fleet intercepting a Ukrainian Navy drone on December 30 and the destruction of another Ukrainian sea drone by Russian naval aviation on December 1.

These incidents underscore the growing challenges faced by the Ukrainian Navy in maintaining the effectiveness of its unmanned maritime capabilities. 

As technological advancements in countermeasures are swiftly implemented by Russian forces, the Ukrainian military finds itself compelled to reassess its drone warfare strategies.

The Limitations Of Reliance On Sea Drones

The Commander of the Ukrainian Navy pointed out that the enemy is adapting to the technological landscape and leveraging drones both on land and at sea. 

Acknowledging the adversary’s technological prowess, Neizhpapa said that the enemy is well-equipped with a powerful industrial complex, and Russian investments in weaponry have been substantial.

The Ukrainian Navy Commander emphasized the inevitability of “complicated drone wars.” As both sides incorporate unmanned aerial vehicles into their military strategies, the maritime theater is set to witness a new era of warfare characterized by advanced drone technologies.

However, Neizhpapa stressed that relying solely on a complete transition to drone technology is not a viable solution for securing victory in the ongoing conflict. 

He underscored the impracticality of a sweeping transition by drawing parallels with the hypothetical scenario of Ground Forces abandoning crucial elements like tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and firearms. 

Furthermore, the commander underscored the importance of physical presence in asserting ownership. 

“You can only consider a territory your own when your soldier or marine’s boot is on it. Then it’s your territory. It’s the same at sea. When you have a ship docked in these territorial waters, and no one can do anything with it, only then is it your sea,” he added. 

He also noted the strategic impact of the sinking of the Moskva cruiser. According to Neizhpapa, this event prompted a shift in the enemy’s approach, realizing they could no longer recklessly approach Ukrainian shores. 

As a result, the ships of the Russian Federation, especially larger vessels, started maintaining a significantly greater distance from Ukrainian shores compared to the early stages of the full-scale aggression. The distance had increased to approximately 100 nautical miles, equivalent to more than 180 kilometers. 

Meanwhile, in response to the success of Ukrainian sea drones, Russia has implemented a series of defense measures, with the most prominent being the installation of physical barriers at harbor entrances. 

Beriev Be-12 - Wikipedia
Beriev Be-12 – Wikipedia

These barriers are anticipated to offer moderate effectiveness in preventing Ukrainian Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) from infiltrating the harbors. Complementing these barriers are machine guns and warships stationed on sentry duty. 

Russia is also deploying its military aircraft to counter Ukrainian Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs). Russia employs vintage Be-12 Mail flying boats to detect these threats, alerting other aviation units. 

Dedicated units stationed in Crimea, featuring helicopters such as Mi-8 Hip and Ka-27, engage Ukrainian Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) with unguided rockets and machine guns.

Fighter jets have also been utilized, typically tasked with patrolling the Black Sea against air threats and serving as a deterrent against NATO aircraft. 

Furthermore, Russia’s high-value vessels, including weapons transports as well as government-affiliated tankers, are now being accompanied by patrol ships and frigates during their Black Sea crossings.