Russia’s attempt to capture more Ukrainian territory is being “undermined” by its inability to exert control over the Black Sea, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.
The Kremlin has suffered numerous naval setbacks in recent months, including the sinking of its flagship, the Moskva, which Ukrainian forces hit with anti-ship missiles on 14 April.
Vladimir Putin’s forces are also struggling because they have lost many of their jets and are no longer in control of the strategically-important Snake Island, according to the MoD. It added that Russian ships are sticking close to the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
“The surface vessels of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet continue to pursue an extremely defensive posture, with patrols generally limited to waters within sight of the Crimean coast,” the British government said in an update on Tuesday morning.
Although Russian vessels continue to pound targets in Ukraine with long-range cruise missiles, they do not have effective control of the Black Sea, the statement added.
As a result, the MoD believes the threat of a Russian amphibious attack on the port of Odesa has been “largely neutralised”, freeing up Ukrainian troops to fight elsewhere.
Meanwhile, more fighting reportedly broke out near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, which is in Russian-held territory. Both sides have accused the other of endangering the safety of the region by shelling areas surrounding the site.
The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has been unable to send experts to the facility to conduct safety checks, raising fears of a potential catastrophe.
In his nightly address, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky called on Monday for further sanctions against Russia, arguing that the international community should not accept “nuclear blackmail” from Russia.
“If through Russia’s actions a catastrophe occurs the consequences could hit those who for the moment are silent,” he said.
“If now the world does not show strength and decisiveness to defend one nuclear power station, it will mean that the world has lost.”