07/31/2022 20:30 (act 07/31/2022 20:40)
The Russian Navy celebrates Fleet Day on July 31st ©APA/Sputnik Host Photo Agency
Ukraine has accused Russia of missile attacks in the Odessa region of the Black Sea. The Odessa city council, citing the Ukrainian army’s southern command, announced on Sunday that two Russian “Iskander” missiles had been shot down from the Crimean peninsula. According to the area administration, the projectiles fell into a quarry. No information was given about possible victims.
Initially, there was no official reaction to Moscow’s allegations. The information could not be independently verified. Previously, “Navy Day” celebrations had been canceled in Crimea, annexed by Russia since 2014 – with reference to an alleged drone attack by the Ukrainians. The Ukrainian Navy, on the other hand, denied it and said the Russians “made up” the incident. Instead, they canceled the parade for fear of attacks.
The Odessa region is home to all three ports through which grain exports across the Black Sea will soon resume as a result of a recent agreement. Since the war began more than five months ago, southern Ukraine has been repeatedly targeted by Russian attacks.
Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin has put a new military doctrine for the Russian Navy into effect on “Navy Day”. Russia’s maritime boundaries, including in the Arctic and the Black Sea, were also defined there. “We will guarantee protection by all means and by all means,” he stressed at a parade with warships on Sunday in his hometown of St. Petersburg.
The new doctrine claimed that the US quest for dominance of the world’s oceans was a “challenge to Russia’s national security”, according to Russian news agency Interfax. The aim is to prevent the US from restricting Russia’s access to deep-sea mineral resources in the world’s oceans – or shipping lanes. In the Arctic, Russia claims, among other things, the suspected gas there, but also other resources.
Nuclear power now wants to be more active in the Arctic region, where other residents have also made claims. The new doctrine expressly emphasizes that Russia can use military force to assert its interests on the high seas, once all attempts to resolve the conflict through diplomatic channels have been exhausted. In the event of war, civilian ships should also be able to be integrated into naval forces.
The relocation of NATO countries’ military infrastructure to Russian borders and the territorial claims of a “series of states” that would affect the maritime regions and islands of the giant empire were also pointed out as dangers. Japan, for example, is demanding the return of the South Kuril Islands in the Pacific.
According to the document, the presence of a “sufficient number” of naval bases outside Russia’s borders must be expanded. A parade of ships was also planned for Sunday in the Syrian port city of Tartus, where the Russian fleet is stationed. Last but not least, the doctrine provides for the construction of modern aircraft carriers – regardless of Western sanctions against shipyards.
The document, which Putin ceremoniously signed, also provides for an expansion of military infrastructure on the Crimean Black Sea peninsula, which was annexed in 2014. The Russian Black Sea Fleet must be strengthened, he said. Ukraine has complained for years that Putin is turning the holiday island into a major military base, discouraging tourists.
In St. Petersburg, Kremlin chief Putin did not participate in the Sevastopol attack or directly in the war. Before his speech, the 69-year-old inspected the parade on a boat during a trip from Kronstadt to St. Petersburg under overcast skies and intermittent rain. He announced in the city on the Gulf of Finland that the new hypersonic naval missile “Zirkon” would soon enter service. Delivery of the missiles will begin in the coming months, with the frigate “Admiral Gorshkov” being the first to be equipped with them.
Putin also said that there were no obstacles for the new hypersonic weapon “Zirkon” for naval forces. Its entry into service in 2021 was announced for early this year following reports of successful testing. Hypersonic weapons have a multiple of the speed of sound of about 343 meters per second. They are a reaction to NATO, Putin said last year. Where exactly they will be put into service must be determined according to Russia’s national interests, he said.
Meanwhile, Turkey said it expects to start exporting grain from Ukraine via the Black Sea as early as Monday. There are only one or two details to be worked out, said a spokesman for President Recep Tayip Erdogan. This is intended to implement a July 22nd agreement. About 20 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain from last year’s crop is still waiting to be exported. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said this year’s harvest will only be half of last year’s. The reason is war.
Meanwhile, the owner of one of Ukraine’s largest grain trading companies, Oleksiy Vadaturskyi, was killed in the heavy bombing of the southern Ukrainian town of Mykolaiv. The city’s mayor, Olexander Sjenkewytsch, described the Sunday night bombing on Telegram as “probably the heaviest ever” since the start of the war. Meanwhile, President Zelenskyy appealed to the people of Donbass to leave immediately.
After the attack on a prison camp in eastern Ukraine, the Red Cross initially waited in vain for access to the wounded. “To be clear, our request for access to prisoners of war in Olenivka prison yesterday was not granted,” tweeted the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Ukraine on Saturday night. The Russian Defense Ministry, on the other hand, said in Moscow that it had invited the ICRC for a visit.
Olenivka is located near Donetsk, in the area controlled by pro-Russian separatists. A rocket is said to have hit the barracks with prisoners of war on Friday night. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke of an intentional Russian war crime. According to the Russian account, the facility was hit by a US HIMARS multiple rocket launcher used by the Ukrainian army. The information provided by both sides could not be directly and independently verified. The Russian Defense Ministry released the names of 50 prisoners killed and 73 wounded on Saturday.