It appears that a Russian invasion fleet is heading toward the Black Sea, possibly preparing for impending military action against the Ukrainian coast.
A combination of Russian North Fleet and Baltic Fleet vessels were seen sailing through the English Channel on Wednesday. The ships’ direction indicated they were heading toward the Mediterranean Sea, the only naval access point to the Black Sea.
The timing of the fleet’s actions is worrying amid sharply rising tensions in Europe. Even worse, the flotilla appears to be built for heavy landing operations.
According to the U.K.’s Daily Mail, six ships were spotted near the islands.
The vessels from Russia’s Baltic Fleet originally spooked Swedish authorities while steaming past the country.
In anticipation of potential Russian military action, the Swedes deployed troops and equipment to the island of Gotland while the ships continued on course.
Several sources identify some of the ships as Ropucha-class landing ships. These are not light vessels — and can unload a lot of hurt in not a lot of time.
6 Russian 🇷🇺 ships of Baltic Fleet passing through English channel this evening escorted in turn by Dutch, Belgian, French warships and probably @HMSDragon
Includes 3 Rapucha-class landing ships likley headed to Black Sea to menace Ukraine 🇺🇦
(Library Photo) pic.twitter.com/7IQ4NorKs9
— Navy Lookout (@NavyLookout) January 19, 2022
Russian Ships, a Russia-based website dedicated to, well, Russian ships, details the Ropucha-class landing ship’s impressive cargo capabilities.
Possible combinations include “10 main battle tanks and 340 troops or 12 PT-76 light tanks and 150 troops or 3 main battle tanks, 3 2S9 Nona-S, 5 MT-LB, 4 army trucks and 313 troops or 20 army trucks and 150 troops or 500 tons of cargo.”
While it’s clear that these are warfighting machines with the ability to change capabilities depending on the situation, what’s less certain is the ships’ current loadout and destination.
If Russian marines are on board and headed to Ukraine, they should expect to meet some heavy resistance.
This is because when the landing door drops, they won’t be facing unprepared conscripts, but troops trained and equipped by Western militaries.
According to the South China Morning Post, British anti-tank systems have been supplied to Ukraine. These will be essential in countering Russian armor.
Canadian commandos are already on the ground in Ukraine as well, using their special forces expertise to get soldiers ready for a potential confrontation with their massive Eastern neighbor.
Despite the help, Ukraine is still in a dangerous position.
With over 100,000 Russian troops backed up with armor and equipment seemingly ready to pour over the border at a moment’s notice, it’s unclear what countries will join the fray after the anticipated Russian blitz kicks off.
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