UK says Russia sacks Black Sea Fleet commander

Vice Admiral Igor Osipov, commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, is said to have been fired after the sinking of the flagship Moskva, according to British intelligence.

According to an intelligence update released by the UK MoD on May 18, Admiral Osipov is one of two senior officers disciplined by the Russian MoD in recent weeks over unsatisfactory combat results during the special military operation in Ukraine.

Vice Admiral Osipov was dismissed due to the incident that the cruiser, the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, caught fire and sank in the Black Sea on April 14. The Ukrainian military claimed to have fired a Neptun missile at the flagship, while the Russian Defense Ministry said the ship sank after an explosion at a munitions depot.

Black Sea Fleet Commander Igor Osipov at the lighting ceremony of the Eternal Flame at the Monument to the Unknown Soldier in Moscow, capital of Russia, March 16. Photo: TASS.

Vice Admiral Igor Osipov, commander of the Black Sea Fleet, at the lighting ceremony of the Eternal Flame at the Monument to the Unknown Soldier in Moscow, capital of Russia, May 16. Image: TASS.

The second senior officer to be sacked was Lieutenant General Serhiy Kisel, commander of the 1st Guards Tank Army. General Kisel is said to have not completed his assault on Kharkov, Ukraine’s second largest city. Russian forces were recently forced to withdraw from Kharkov due to resistance from the Ukrainian army, as well as many problems in logistics and battle coordination.

The Russian Defense Ministry has not commented on the information. The British Ministry of Defense regularly publishes intelligence reports on the situation in Ukraine, based on information gathered on the battlefield, using technical means and satellites.

At the end of March, Russia announced the withdrawal of forces from northern Ukraine and focused on attacking the Donbass region. After almost two months of fighting in this area, Russia controlled 80% of the Donbass region and the city of Mariupol completely, but had to retreat to Kharkov.

Defense Minister of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov on May 17 assessed that the war with Russia has entered a protracted phase while Moscow prepares for a long-term military campaign to take full control of the Donbass region.

A senior Pentagon official said on condition of anonymity that Russian forces are now fighting in smaller groups in eastern Ukraine, rather than attacking with large battalion-level units as before, to counter the logistical, organizational structure on the battlefield.

Location of the cities of Kharkov, Ukraine and Belgorod, Russia.  Graphic: Washington Post.

Location of the cities of Kharkov, Ukraine and Belgorod, Russia. Graphic: Washington Post.

Duc Trung (Corresponding cnn, hill)