The Kremlin has decided to replace the commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet after a series of Russian military failures in Ukraine, the Crimean branch of Russia’s RIA Novosti propaganda outlet reported on Aug. 17, with reference to a source in the Russian navy.
Vice Admiral Viktor Sokolov is reportedly the new commander and has already been introduced to the members of the military council.
At the same time, the Russian leadership has decided not to make his appointment widely publicized.
“There was no public event, and it probably won’t be held due to the introduction of the yellow terrorist threat level in the city,” the source said, adding that Sokolov is now “taking over duties.”
In turn, Ukrainian journalist Yuriy Butusov in his column for NV explained that the appointment of the new Black Sea Fleet commander was connected with the failures of his predecessor, Admiral Igor Osipov, in particular due to the destruction of the Russian military airfield in Novofedorivka along with aircraft and the killing of personnel.
It was at that air base that the main strike force of the Black Sea Fleet, the 43rd Naval Attack Aviation Regiment, was based.
“It’s interesting that even after the destruction of the Moskva flagship cruiser, on which Admiral Osipov held his flag, he wasn’t removed from his post,” Butusov said.
“But after the explosions, as a result of which, according to the statement of the Russian Defense Ministry, there were allegedly no casualties, the admiral lost his post. This indicates that the Russian air force has suffered a defeat unprecedented in its history since World War II.”
Several powerful blasts rocked a Russian air base near the village of Novofedorivka in Russian-occupied Crimea on Aug. 9.
Explosions were heard again in Russian-occupied Crimea on Aug. 16. In the morning, an ammunition depot exploded near the village of Azovske in the Dzhankoy district, and a fire broke out at an electricity transformer station in Dzhankoy itself. Later, explosions hit an air base near the Crimean capital city of Simferopol.
Russia blames the explosions on “accidents,” but the evidence points to these being attacks by Ukraine – either by long-range missiles or rockets or, as some Ukrainian officials have hinted anonymously, by Ukrainian special operations sabotage groups working behind enemy lines.