Kremlin sacks head of Black Sea fleet after Ukraine sinks warships

One critic claimed that Admiral Viktor Sokolov’s poor leadership has led to the destruction of a fifth of the Black Sea Fleet
One critic claimed that Admiral Viktor Sokolov’s poor leadership had led to the destruction of a fifth of the Black Sea Fleet - Alexey Pavlishak/REUTERS
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The Kremlin has quietly sacked the commander of its Black Sea Fleet after Ukraine destroyed a large warship off the occupied Crimean peninsula earlier this week.

Russian military bloggers said that the sinking of the Caesar Kunikov transport ship on Wednesday had angered Vladimir Putin, who finally sacked Admiral Viktor Sokolov.

“It seems that it had become impossible to ignore the latest heavy losses of the fleet,” the War Informant channel told its 586,000 subscribers.

The sinking of the Caesar Kunikov transport warship had angered Vladimir Putin
The sinking of the Caesar Kunikov transport warship had angered Vladimir Putin - UNPIXS

Adml Sokolov, 61, was made commander of the Kremlin’s Black Sea Fleet in August 2022, replacing Admiral Igor Osipov, who presided over a series of humiliations including the sinking of the Moskva flagship in April 2022 and the loss of the strategically important Snake Island to Ukraine.

But a series of missile and drone strikes on warships and a submarine has also undermined Adml Sokoloval’s command, forcing the Kremlin into desperate measures to protect its fleet. The latest plan is to build a base on the coast of Abkhazia, a pro-Russia rebel region of Georgia about 380 miles from Ukraine.

Ukraine’s military said that several drones had struck the Caesar Kunikov
Ukraine’s military said that several drones had struck the Caesar Kunikov - Yoruk Isik/REUTERS

One military blogger, Roman Saponkov, said that Adml Sokolov’s poor leadership was to blame for the destruction of a fifth of the Black Sea Fleet.

“He prohibited the installation of non-standard devices on ships, for example, thermal imagers for detecting kamikaze boats, additional heavy machine guns, drones with a thermal imager and other technological products from the 21st century.”

On Wednesday, Ukraine’s military said that several drones struck the Caesar Kunikov transport warship, sinking it.

Although its counteroffensive failed over the summer, Ukraine has been able to point to successes in the Black Sea where it has pinned back and picked off Russia’s far larger navy.

In September 2023, a missile strike on Sevastopol was reported to have killed 33 Russian naval officers who had gathered for a planning meeting, including Adml Sokolov. The Kremlin then went out of its way to release video and pictures which it said proved that he was alive.

According to reports, Vice Admiral Sergey Pinchuk has been appointed as the new commander of the Black Sea Fleet.

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