In a significant blow to Vladimir Putin’s naval capabilities, the Russian Black Sea Fleet has lost the Caesar Kunikov in a dramatic drone attack.

The large landing ship was reported engulfed in flames off the southern coast of the annexed Crimea, marking another embarrassing loss for Putin amidst the ongoing conflict.

Early footage of the incident revealed the vessel in distress, with flames and smoke rising prominently against the coastal backdrop. The Caesar Kunikov, a 369ft behemoth used by Russian armed forces for operations against Ukraine, became the focal point of a frantic Russian rescue operation, involving both surface vessels and a submarine in an attempt to salvage the situation.

Ukraine’s intelligence office has claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that the ship was targeted and sunk in the early hours. The attack not only signifies a direct hit to Russia’s military logistics but also underlines the vulnerabilities in Russia’s naval defences, especially in the strategically critical Black Sea region.

The sinking of the Caesar Kunikov represents not only a tactical loss for Putin’s Black Sea Fleet but also a significant symbolic defeat, underscoring the ongoing challenges faced by Russia in securing its military assets against a determined Ukrainian opposition.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Jim
Jim
1 month ago

The Russian navy is currently rated as the third biggest in the world while the Royal Navy is the fourth by gross tonnage. I wonder how long the Russians can keep their apparent third place given A) Their inability to build ships much larger than a Frigate B) The rate Ukraine keeps sinking the Black Sea fleet We should perhaps ask Turkey to open the Bosporus to Russian warships so that more can be sunk. Given the size and capability of the Royal Navy it’s seems strange to me why every second comment on here is about how s**t the… Read more »

monkey spanker
monkey spanker
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

The RFA make a big contribution to the overall tonnage. The negativity is partly a British thing and from the direction of travel. Less items replacing previous numbers, slow procurement etc.

Michael S.
Michael S.
1 month ago
Reply to  monkey spanker

It is the same in Germany. Bashing against everything done, and then when you look at the numbers suddenly its not as bad as it seems.

It is a thing in democratic societies. Just live with it. In reality, there is a reason why democratic societies have usually been quite good at their defense.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

Should also just note that was Russia counts as being in their navy in very different to how we count things. They often count ships and boats that aren’t seaworthy and haven’t left left in years and are little more than boat-shaped rust. See: a very large amount of their submarine fleet

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

For balance I do think RN and RAF would make short work of the Russian surface fleet.

My concern is more around Russian submarines.

Whist we could undoubtedly take out any in dock or on the wall hunting down the leakers would stretch our trusty rusty ASW fleet although the P8’s will be very handy particularly as they will shortly have a proper heavy torpedo – see article today.

All that said anyone and everyone agrees we need more crew and more fighty surface units and more RFA bods.

Jim
Jim
1 month ago

Astute,P8,Merlin and type 23 is probably the world’s premier ASW force. We don’t have massive numbers but then neither do the Russians and if you can storm shadow anything held up in port it does not bode well for the Russian’s northern fleet. Finland is 50 miles from their main naval base. Could easily use MLRS as well.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

Totally agree.

The issue is whether RAF will agree with the day one tasking of taking out RuN or solely prioritise RuAF.

There are arguments both sides for preventing dispersal.

RAF argument will be with RuAF they can do what they want once S400 is out of the loop.

The physiological battle would be better fought sinking surface combatants and submarines.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
1 month ago

You’d imagine that the RuN would be made pretty short work of

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

To be honest the RAF does have a big gap around maritime strike…it’s sort of shows how committed they are by not having a dedicated anti shipping missile…I think it’s are really big hole to be honest…I don’t know why we don’t have an Anti ship missile for typhoon…we are an island surrounded by water…every RAF airfield typhoon flies from is on an island…it’s just a plain odd decision.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Agree. One of my bugbears.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

It’s not even like they would have to fund any testing, there is an off the shelf option that’s not even expensive. Marte ER is perfectly adequate not overpriced anti ship missile and typhoon can carry 6…

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

The Russian naval bases have always been a weakness, the Baltic is a NATO lake now and if they think the Black Sea is bad that would be a millpond compared to their difficulties there. The northern fleet too while their most capable would in terms of surface vessels be at great risk if it tried to sale west and even if it did get to the North Sea wouldn’t last long. As for the Pacific fleet well it’s hardly impressive and would I suspect be feeding the fish like its predecessors if it dared to get anywhere near the… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Which is why I was never concerned about our escorts not having an ASM, compared to more pressing issues that needed money. Their fleets are constrained by geography. Even Vladivostok in the Pacific is constrained. Only Petropavlovsk is free and that is a sub base. Their escorts are in their bastions and would be sunk in short order. The threat is from their submarines and missiles. The RN does not line it’s escorts up to exchange ASM with Russian ships like the battle of Jutland. Situational awareness and Intelligence from multiple sources is involved there. So that leaves the primary… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

Indeed and I agree, in that’ is suspect the RN was more focused on the strike element of the NSM than its ASuW capabilities. I agree with you the fixed wing ASuW capability is a massive hole that needs filling for both F35 and typhoon….typhoon is an off the shelf easy fix that should be done now..F35 needs some effort on just get it done, interim wing pylon option. People constantly forget that a single escort that is trying to hide itself will not be able to generate kill chains to any distance…modern escorts do not hurl ASM at each… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

It’s fair to say the RN could manage the Northern fleet…the Russian navy is essentially full of 40 year old relics with designs going back to the to 60s and 70s..the only issue will be the fact that the northern fleet will probably not come out at all and will bastion up..which would mean the RN, RAF and NATO friends would have to winkle them out…I suspect the norther fleet will do little more than throw long range missiles at bases and try really hard not die.

Frank62
Frank62
1 month ago

“Whilst we could undoubtedly take out any in dock or on the wall ”
Are we any safer from such attacks ourselves?

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank62

Not totally.

But given the accuracy of Russian missiles they would probably hit Ireland 🙂

Some missile defence is quite urgent given we have over consolidated the bases.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

Yes I’m not sure what the resistance is to missile defences for key bases..considering we know the Russian navel strategy revolves around staying in a bastion and firing long range strike missiles at bases. We could buy into the Aster ground based system as it would effectively use the same missile pool as the T45 and provide all the protection needed from sub launched cruise missiles and air/ground launched ballistic missiles.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Well pretty much as soon as Land Ceptor came into being army said they wanted something longer range. So that kicked off a hiatus of nothing. This I think lead into the Polish co-development deal. At the time it would have been relatively easy and not crazy expensive to have ordered more than the 10 Land Ceptor units. I get why army did what they did. I get that they really want ER / MR variants. Those might well be perfectly good enough for base defences. I’d say CAMM was perfectly good enough to protect the base too TBH. The… Read more »

Jon
Jon
1 month ago

You really think some general said we don’t want CAMM? It’s Rapier for us until we can have something longer range.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon

Hmmme well it was widely reported…..CAMM is a massive upgrade on Rapier.

Frank
Frank
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

To be fair, I don’t see many people actually saying that the UK is Sh%t at everything…… but I do see a lot (myself included) who are concerned at the current state of the armed forces and in particular available equipment and personnel levels…. There is a big difference between the two and it is blatantly obvious to all but the most optimistic among us, that there are serious issues.

Brilliant work being done by Ukraine though, we are seeing the new face of modern warfare, let’s hope those that be, are taking note.

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

👍 for both paragraphs. Though time to give POW the credit for relieving latter concern.

Frank
Frank
1 month ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

I have nothing but praise and the utmost respect for our armed forces and what they can achieve…… POW readiness and turnaround has shown that we can still perform when it really counts, however disappointing the circumstances.

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

Yep. Aside, just looking at the size of those carriers as they leave Portsmouth Harbour; do keep thinking full EMALS to maximise🤔

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

Well the US is in cancelling FARA it seems. They have very quickly decided that battlefield helicopters generally will struggle and in the Pacific without substantial range would be pretty useless under the present pattern of technological change and far better upgrading what you have with superior tech meant for future airframes than actually building the latter. Drones do seem to be attracting the bulk of attention to a far greater degree than anyone expected certainly at this juncture and air defences are just making slower moving manned aircraft impractical for the most part. Especially when improving speed even by… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

I agree, saying we need to do better and spend more is not putting the UK down…it’s just actually acknowledging the fact that many people now think we are heading to a major war and need to be close to a war footing…both Russia and china have essentially been on wartime economies for a while now….Russia is now producing around 90 MBTs a month, china is putting around the same tonnage of warships in the sea as the total tonnage of the RN every 18months to two years…if Ukraine falls Russia will regenerate its forces within a few years..chinas navy… Read more »

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

It is when they stop moaning you have to worry Jim!

Jon
Jon
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

They are capable of building landing ships bigger than this one, which was an old Soviet ship made in Poland. However the question is what replacements can they build on the Black Sea. Even if they decide to replace this Ropucha class with one of the new Ivan Grens, those are built on the Baltic, so not until the war is over.

I know corvettes can be built on the Volga for the Black and Caspian sea fleets, but I’m not sure if anything as large as a frigate is replaceable.

liam
liam
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

Well that question has a very simple answer. Complaining is the british national past time 🙂

Sooty
Sooty
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

It’s not that the UK is s**t at everything. What armed forces we have left are as good as they’ve ever been, which is world class. It’s just that our capabilities have been steadily eroded by our very own politicians of all persuasions. Same with industry

maurice10
maurice10
1 month ago

Further proof as if it were needed that any nation third or otherwise can hit the World’s mighty navies with cheap and effective drones. With the speed by which these small systems are changing warfare whether it be sea, land or air no one is safe. The range of drone sizes is so vast too, from bumble bee to business jet that the menu at the disposal of war planners is a dream. The key issue now, how can we counter the threat and the spectrum of deployment?

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  maurice10

Not so sure about that.

The Russian CIWS is absurdly bad.

Try sitting one of their ships where Diamond was and see what happens.

Frank62
Frank62
1 month ago
Reply to  maurice10

Where are those sci-fi force shields when you need them?!

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago

Go Ukraine. Just give them exactly what they require to remove Russia from the chessboard. 🤑🚀

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
1 month ago

Ukraine have mastered this new form of warfare. I hope we’re learning lots from them

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago

It is not a new form. HMS York.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago

This is great news and says a lot for the determination of the Ukrainians. I have thought of this war being Ukraine’s equivalent of the war of 1812 which did much to forge Canadian identity. This kind of victory does indeed disrupt Russian logistics, but they will adapt. I think the real lasting impact of these victories is likely to be more about the nation, it’s morale, how it sees itself and ultimately in its self belief. It also serves to remind wavering allies that Ukraine is still in the fight. However, all that said we need to remember a… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago

Nice morale booster fir Ukraine. But we need to get them the artillery shells they need.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Thing is how are they using them?

They don’t really need matching numbers to Russia if they use them properly.

Russians crater fields and splinter trees with volume of fire. NATO tries to hit targets.

Using the NATO weapons provided they should be able to accurately strike.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

Interestingly there was as piece of research done ( by the British army ) that it’s the number of bangs that shatters your enemy..especially for dug in dispersed troops..accuracy is important especially for the west…but with dug in armies like we are seeing in Ukraine….numbers matter as well.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I’m aware of that research.

But you can have a bang that hits something important/critical each time…it is still a bang and still has the psyops effect as well as degrading enemy materiel.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

Surely this reinforces the idea that all warships and RFA need CIWS.
Not just when deployed.
I fear in an exchange some RFA would be just as vulnerable.

Jonno
Jonno
1 month ago

The days of FFBNW are now over. All RN and RFA ships need to be ready to expect Drones of whatever type whenever deployed. I suspect you need at least an M1 machine gun to stop one of these sea drones with their IR homing. Do our M1’s have IR I doubt it. Can Carl Gustav be used? We need to dust off our heavyweight torpedoes which could come in handy. I thought these kinds of attack went out with the advent of Radar apparently not. Many years ago a civilian diver friend found an Italian Supermarina Facemask on the… Read more »

Lusty
Lusty
1 month ago

It does.

And it again raises two, maybe three questions:

– Why have the 30mm cannon not been fitted to the carriers? I do not consider the “not needed” arguements to be particularly valid.

– Should we consider a fleet-wide program of upgrading to 40mm as standard?

– Do we go back to designing ships to have more cannon deployed for high-threat environments? T31 has space for 30mm just above the hangar, as an example. Same with the bridge wings of Rivers, though I wouldn’t be sending those into the same environments as 31s(!!!)

SailorBoy
SailorBoy
1 month ago
Reply to  Lusty

Your point re the 40mm is, I think, the most important. The MOD clearly decided that the 40mm was the most cost-effective CIWS offered, so why not expand it? Surely it isn’t too late to change the T26 to 2xPhalanx and 2×40?

DRS
DRS
1 month ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

Standardise 40mm with 3P everywhere. Up gun the rivers 30mm with one, replace DS30 mounts on Carriers with at least 2 40mm plus 2 sea ceptor or 4x40mm. Add to T26/45/31 etc. The drone wars have begun….

Frank62
Frank62
1 month ago

Absolutely.

Frank62
Frank62
1 month ago

“Oh dear, what a pity, never mind” Seriously though, the pain Russian parents etc must be suffering from their tyrant’s criminal, insane ambitions. I feel the best way to bring the UKR war to an acceptable end will be to send forces alongsdie UKR & drive the Russians out. Putin expects us to cower & leave UKR hanging in the wind, Trump seems all behind that, a Russian agent or at least a useful idiot to Putin. He could bring about a second ACW & the end of free democracy in the USA. Anyway, the UAV drone threat highlights the… Read more »

Jonno
Jonno
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank62

My thinking exactly. The Russians are known to have regular shipping containers fitted with anti-Ship missiles so yes why not UAV’s. We should expect the unexpected and take the RNR a viable counter. There used to be seaward defence.

Lusty
Lusty
1 month ago

They sank a patrol boat a few weeks ago. Even to the level of driving drones through holes in the hull that had been made by previous drones.

We are seeing a massive evolution in capability right in front of our faces.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

These surface drones are proving deadly…what is really interesting is that this ship was sunk on the 14 Feb that’s the day the actual hero of the Soviet Union the ship was named after died..so it looks like this many have been less of an attack of opportunity and more of a focused planned attack on a specific ship on a specific day..or a real kick in the bollox to the Russia Navy with a message “we can sink your ships on a day we choose”….that’s one hell of a message to the Black Sea fleet.

Wayne
Wayne
1 month ago

What is the best defence against this sort of attack? Whatever the Russians are doing is not working.

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago
Reply to  Wayne

Earlier detection, physical barriers(nets).