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Russian Caspian Flotilla amphibious vessels transfer to Black Sea

Russian threat capabilities against Ukraine were added to on 7 April when Moscow’s Ministry of Defence announced that more than 10 amphibious landing and artillery ships are to be transferred from the Caspian Flotilla to the Black Sea Fleet headquartered at Sevastopol in the Crimea.

The crews will first undertake training at the Caspian Flotilla naval base in Makhachkala, in Dagestan, before sailing to the Black Sea, where they will join similar Black Sea Fleet vessels. Initial training activities include coastal assault and navigation in shallow and confined waterways and sea areas.

The Caspian-Black Sea route takes more than a week and passes through the Volga-Don Canal from Astrakhan on the north Caspian, via Volgograd, then down the River Don to Rostov, on the Sea of Azov, which adjoins the Black Sea.

The Sea of Azov is contested by Kiev and Moscow. The Kerch Strait between southern Russia and eastern Crimea links the Sea of Azov with the Black Sea and is a strategic flashpoint. Since early 2018 Moscow has been practising anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) against Ukraine by blockading the vital Kerch Strait and passage to Ukrainian coast and ports on the western shore of the body of water.

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