KEY POINTS

  • Two long Kamaz vehicles with missiles on its back were spotted on the shore
  • Russia also conducted a major amphibious demonstration on the Black Sea on Tuesday
  • Russia said the ships were returning to the base after approaching the Ukrainian coast

As Kremlin's onslaught on the 40 towns in the Donbas region continues, satellite images have noted a flurry of activity in the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Submarines were being loaded with Kalibr missiles while landing crafts were spotted conducting exercises in the Black Sea.

Two submarines of the Varshavyanka-class were seen moored at the berths in the South Bay of Sevastopol in Crimea, reported Crimea. Realities, a wing of Radio Liberty. 

While two port tug boats pulled a self-propelled floating crane to one of the berths, two long Kamaz vehicles were seen on the eastern shore. Transport and launch containers with missiles were visible on the back of these Kamaz trucks.

According to the report, the submarines of the Varshavyanka-class carry the Kalibr-type missiles that can be used in various modifications against sea and ground targets. Each submarine is armed with four such weapons. The missiles, used to hit ground targets from submarines, have a diameter of 533 mm and a flight range of 1400 km. 

This comes as Ukrainian officials warned that the Black Sea fleet of Russia was planning to use the submarine missiles for strikes on the Ukraine territory. 

Meanwhile, defense analyst H I Sutton has reported that Russia conducted a major amphibious demonstration in the Black Sea on Tuesday. A Sentinel-2 satellite captured two formations, North and South. The southern group was the larger part and included four landing ships, two from Ropucha and two from the Alligator class. These were escorted by two Buya-M class missile corvettes and a minesweeper. 

The southern group was seen southwest of Crimea, heading back toward Sevastopol. This is further south than anyone normally expects to see the amphibious demonstrations, Sutton reported on his website Covert Shores.

Russia claims that the ships were returning to the base after approaching the Ukrainian coast, probably the southern tip. However, Sutton said there was also a chance the ships may be targeting Moldova. This is because one of Russia's unrealized strategic aims is to create a land bridge to Transnistria, a Russian-backed unrecognized breakaway state in eastern Moldova. 

The northern arm consisted of two landing ships, escorted by a frigate. These were seen near the Crimean coast, east of Odessa.

"A series of these demonstrations can also act as a feint. It may mean that a real assault, when it comes, is not taken seriously enough by the defenders until it is too late," Sutton added. 

A Russian nuclear submarine sails during an exercises by nuclear forces Representation. A Russian nuclear submarine sails in an unknown location during exercises involving the launch of ballistic missiles. Photo: Reuters / RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY