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Ukrainian Navy: A force in distress

The Ukrainian Navy's sole frigate, Hetman Sahaydachniy, is pictured with Gurza-M inshore patrol craft during Exercise ‘Sea Breeze', held in the Black Sea in late July 2020. (Ukrainian MoD)

The ongoing tensions between Russia, Ukraine, and NATO countries with regards to the increasing Russian Armed Forces buildup along the Ukrainian borders are an extension of the eight-year-long conflict that began with the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014. With the loss of Crimea and control over the Kerch Strait, Ukraine has become dependent on Russia for its access to the Black Sea from the Sea of Azov. The loss has not only shrunk the country's maritime boundaries, but also restricted the freedom of navigation of its commercial vessels, making its maritime trade dependent on Russian actions. The current virtual naval blockade of Ukraine as a result of the ongoing Russian naval exercises in the Black Sea is a testimony to the vulnerability of Ukraine's maritime access.

In a bid to counter Russian attempts to unilaterally dominate the region in the future, Ukraine has embarked on a recapitalisation effort to rebuild its naval capabilities to better defend its territorial waters and protect other maritime interests. To achieve its objectives, Ukraine requires a strong navy that can enforce sea control and project deterrence to avoid further attempts by Russia to encroach on its sovereignty. Having lost a considerable number of its assets at Sevastopol in Crimea in 2014, however, and in the face of ongoing funding and resource constraints, the Ukrainian Navy's modernisation efforts remain a challenging task.

Fleet composition - Ukrainian Navy

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