The war in Ukraine has been a disaster for Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. Not only has he failed to achieve his strategic objectives of annexing the eastern regions of Donbas and Luhansk, but he has also lost control over the decision-making process in the Black Sea, where his naval forces have been forced to retreat from the Ukrainian coastline.
This is the assessment of Rear Admiral Dr Chris Parry, a former director of operational capability at the UK Ministry of Defence and a leading expert on maritime security. In an interview with Times Radio, he explained how Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 backfired spectacularly, triggering a fierce resistance from the Ukrainian armed forces and a strong response from the international community.
According to Parry, Putin’s initial plan was to create a land bridge between Russia and Crimea, the peninsula that he illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014. He also wanted to secure access to the Sea of Azov, a strategic waterway that connects the Black Sea with the Don River and the Volga-Don Canal. By doing so, he hoped to isolate Ukraine from its main trading partners and weaken its economy and sovereignty.
However, Parry said that Putin underestimated the resolve and capabilities of the Ukrainian military, which had been modernized and reformed with the help of Western allies since the 2014 revolution that ousted pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych. The Ukrainians managed to halt the Russian advance and inflict heavy casualties on the invaders, using a combination of conventional and unconventional warfare.
One of the key elements of the Ukrainian strategy was the use of naval drones, which Parry described as “a game-changer” in the Black Sea. These drones, supplied by Britain and France, were able to strike Russian targets with precision and stealth, avoiding the sophisticated air defence systems that Russia had deployed in Crimea and elsewhere. Parry said that the Ukrainian drones had hit several high-value targets, including the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol, an S-400 missile battery, a large landing ship, a submarine.
Parry said that these attacks had forced the Russian navy to withdraw from the…