Capture of Southern Naval Base

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The blockade of Southern Naval Base lasted from 3 March to 27 March, 2014. It began with the blocking of the exit from Donuzlav by the Russian missile cruiser "Moscow", Russian Navy later flooded the Russian anti-submarine ship "Ochakov" to prevent Ukrainian ships from leaving and reaching the Ukrainian fleet in Odessa. As a result of the blockade, 13 Ukrainian ships were blocked in Donuzlav. The blockade ended with the establishment of Russian control over the last ship under the Ukrainian flag in Crimea, "Cherkasy".

Military Base[edit]

In 1961 a 200-meter canal was made, which was made from the lake Donuzlav Bay. Since then, the development of the region has been linked to the Southern Naval Base. After the separation of the Black Sea Fleet, the base passed under the control of Ukraine. The Southern Naval Base of Ukraine was created. Several joint exercises between NATO and Ukraine "Sea Breeze" took place on Donuzlav's territory, which caused disapproval of Russia, as well as the pro-Russian forces of the peninsula.[1][2][3][4]

At the beginning of the blockade, the following military units and naval units of Ukraine were located in the Novoozerne settlement: 257 combined armaments and assets (air force A4290), a naval intelligence station (A / 343 military unit), the Southern Naval Base Ukraine (air force A2506) and 21 district of the coastal surveillance system (airborne A4249).[5] Also, in the Donuzlav area in the village Mirny is the abandoned air base of anti-aircraft aviation.[6][7].

As of March 2014, the ships of 5 brigades of surface ships of the Naval Forces were based in Novoozerne:[5][8]:

In the structure of 8 separate divisions of the ships were the provision of: [5][9]

  • Fire rescue vessel "Evpatoria" (U728);(Returned)
  • Seagoing tug "Kovel" (U831);(Returned)
  • Towboat "Novoozernoe" (U942)(Returned)

Background[edit]

Southern Naval Base of Ukraine

From 23 to 27 February, the executive power of Sevastopol and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea was changed. The new Crimean authorities have declared illegitimacy of the authorities of Ukraine and appealed for help to the leadership of Russia, which gave her support.[10][11].

Since February 27, the actions of numerous armed groups have been unfolding on the territory of the Crimea - some of these armed groups were self-defense detachments from local residents, Berkuvtsev, Cossacks and representatives of various Russian public organizations who came to Crimea on their own initiative to "protect their compatriots". On the other hand - a group of well-armed and equipped men in uniform without identifying signs.[12] Until the end of the Crimean crisis, these formations provided control over strategic objects and local authorities, their protection and functioning, and blocked Ukrainian military units and headquarters.[13] The Ukrainian and Western media, the Ukrainian authorities and the leadership of the Western powers from the very first days have said with certainty that they are talking about the actions of units of the Russian forces, qualifying it as aggression, military invasion and occupation. Russian officials until April 2014 refused to admit it publicly.[14].

On March 1, after receiving an appeal from the Government of Crimea and Viktor Yanukovych, Russian President Vladimir Putin appealed to the Federation Council on the use of Russian troops on the territory of Ukraine.[15] The same day, the Federation Council, having gathered for an extraordinary meeting, agreed to use Russian troops in Ukraine.[16]

Also on March 1, 2014 by decree in. at. President of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov appointed Denis Berezovsky the commander of the Naval Forces of Ukraine. The next day, the Rear Admiral swore an oath to the new leadership of Crimea and was appointed Commander of the Navy of Crimea.[17] That same day he was removed from office by a decision of Defense Minister of Ukraine Ihor Tenyukh and decree by President of Ukraine. Instead of Berezovsky's commander Serhiy Hayduk was appointed.[18][19][20].

Main events[edit]

The landing ship "Konstantin Olshansky" during exercises in Donuzlav in 2009

According to the Minister of Defense of Ukraine Igor Tenyukh, at the moment of blockage, only four ships remained in the quasi-combatant capacity, including the large landing ship "Konstantin Olshansky", which was based in Donuzov.[21] Answering the question why Ukrainian ships were not withdrawn from Crimea at the end of February 2014, Tenyukh accused the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Yuriy Ilyin, who, according to him did not issue an order.[22] However, Ilyin himself accused Tenyukh of the absence of such an order.[23]

On March 2, 2014, four KamAZ trucks with armed people arrived in Novoazerne settlement.[24] On March 3 information appeared on the blocking of the Southern Naval Base of Ukraine by military servicemen of the Russian Federation.[25] The 200-meter-long exit from the Gulf of Donuzlav blocked the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet of Russia, missile cruiser "Moscow", accompanied by four ships of support.[26][27] On land, the Ukrainian part was blocked by about 100 military servicemen of Russia. At the same time, Ukrainian Navy's ships were ordered to take off from the pier and concentrate on Donuzlav.[28]

The commander of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation, Aleksandr Vitko personally came to negotiations with the command of the part, during which he offered to surrender and oath to the Crimean people, but he was denied.[29] Denied and in execution of the order of Denis Berezovsky - the ships retired to the berth and handed over the weapons to the warehouses.[28] On the morning of March 4 Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov said that personnel of the Ukrainian military units ready to submit to the new government of Crimea and that for commanders who refused to do his bidding, will be prosecuted.[30].

The Minesweeper "Chernigov" in Donuzlav in 2008

On March 4, armed people without identification marks began to dig trenches near the berth. On March 5, Donuzlav blocked the exit of ships SFP-183, "Moscow", "Shtel" and "Lightning".[24] In order to prevent the release of Ukrainian ships to Odessa on the night of March 5 to 6, 2014, a large antifouling ship Ochakov (length about 180 meters) and a rescue ship Shakhty belonging to the Russian Federation were flooded at the exit from Donuzlav. Ochakov boarded the board, blocking the exit from the bay.[31][32] The flooding "Ochakov" took about 80 minutes.[33].

In connection with the blockade of Ukrainian ships in Donuzlav, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine expressed its strong protest to the Russian Federation.[34] On March 7 flooded fire boat BM-416 was flooded, it had a displacement of 30-40 tons.[35].

On March 13, there was information about the flooding of the fourth ship at the exit of the Gulf, after which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine handed a verbal note to Russia in connection with the flooding of ships in Donuzlav and the threat to environmental safety in the Black Sea.[36][37][38] Director of the Information Policy Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Yevhen Perebyinis stated that the responsibility for damage to the marine environment and natural resources rested on the Russian side.[39].

Marine minesweeper "Cherkasy" during exercises in Donuzlav in 2009

Also, on March 13, to the location of the Southern Naval Base of Ukraine, food was delivered in the amount of about 25 tons collected by farmers from the Rivne region. Base commander Vladimir Dogonov said that there is a lot of assistance for their base, and therefore shared it with neighboring military units.[40] Through the Red Cross, residents of Kropyvnytskyi and Novomyrhorod passed the aid.[41] Yuri Fedash, commander of the Cherkasy minesweeper, said that Crimean Tatars from the neighboring villages of Medvedev and Kirovske also provided assistance.[42].

Following a referendum on the Crimea status on March 16, the seamen requested a clear plan from the Ukrainian leadership for further action on the evacuation of servicemen and their families from Donuzlav.[43][44] However, the Acting President of Ukraine, Oleksandr Turchynov, said that the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff issued orders to protect their ships. Turchynov also stressed the need to withstand and prevent further Russian invasion of Ukraine.[45]

Volodymyr Komoedov, deputy of the State Duma of Russia and former commander of the Black Sea Fleet Volodymyr Komoedov, said that Ukrainian vessels that are in the Crimea will become Russian after the referendum.[46].

On March 19, 2014, the headquarters of the Southern Naval Base of Ukraine went under the control of the Russian Federation.[47][48] The headquarters gates near the checkpoint were demolished by a bulldozer. Russian military civilian vehicles blocked the exit from the fleet of vehicles.[49] After that, the ships "Vinnitsa", "Konstantin Olshansky", "Kirovograd", "Cherkassy" and "Chernigov" came to the middle of Donuzlav to prevent capture.[50] March 20, Vitaliy Zvyagintsev, commander of the 5 brigades of the surface ships of the Naval Forces of Ukraine, who crossed Russia, ordered all ships to berth.[51][52]

On March 21, three machine gun points were deployed on the shore, the berth was occupied by Russian military personnel.[53] On the same day, the ships "Kirovograd", "Theodosius" and "Chernigov" approached the berth and surrendered.[24] The commander of Kirovgrad, captain of the 3rd rank Volodymyr Khromchenkov, called the Shuster Live transmission live in the evening and told that the ships are waiting for an adequate order for their further fate, adding that the leadership is not connected with him.[54] The next day, with the commander contacted the head of the Presidential Administration Serhiy Pashynskyi.[55]

Later, the commander of "Kirovograd" Volodymyr Khromchenkov, the commander of "Theodosius" O. Bily and the commander of "Chernigov" Boris Paliy passed to the side of Russia.[51]

March 21, the minesweeper Cherkasy made the first attempt to break through with Donuzlav.[56] "Cherkasy" was hit by mooring cables one of the flooded ships and tried to delay it. The operation lasted about two hours, but the miner was not able to do it because of a lack of power.[57] The commander of the ship Yuri Fedash asked for help from the minesweeper "Chernigov", but he was denied. On this day, two officers, one midshipman and nine people came from Cherkassy.[58] Instead, on board three sailors climbed from the minesweeper "Chernigov".[57]

On March 22, the corvette "Vinnitsa", as a result of the assault, raised the Andriyivsky flag, and the commander Sergei Zagolnikov eventually turned to Russia.[59][51] On the same day, Sergei Gaiduk said that food supplies on ships that are in Donuzlav are left for 10 days.[60] On March 23, the "Henichesk" raid trawler attempted to exit Donuzlav, however, it was blocked by the tug of the Black Sea Fleet of Russia.[61][24] On the same day, Yuri Fedash, commander of the Cherkasy minesweeper, said that he had a relationship with the command.[62].

On the night of March 24, a small vessel was flooded.[63] Later, Konstantin Olshansky used smokescreens, but was still captured from the boat U8301, as well as the minesweeper Genichesk.[64][65][66][67] Captain Konstantin Olshansky Dmitry Kovalenko said that the issue of flooding was not considered.[68] At the time of capture of the ship from 120 crew left 21. For all time, "Konstantin Olshansky" was thrown about 400 grenades.[28] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine named the seizure of ships by Russia - piracy.[69]

Headquarters of the Southern Naval Base of Ukraine

The trawler "Cherkasy" made an attempt to leave Donuzlav, passing between two floodplain ships. As a result, the trawler was blocked by a towering vessel, from which attempts were made to land on board.[65] According to Fedash, he considered a variant of capture of this vessel, but the leadership in Kiev refused. He also said that in order to prevent the seizure of the ship, they fired on water and used grenades.[42] Also on March 24 President of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchinov said that the Ministry of Defense was given an order to withdraw military units from the Crimea.[70]

On March 25, an unknown boat traveled around the minesweeper "Cherkasy".[71] March 26, the last Ukrainian ship in Crimea - a minesweeper "Cherkasy" was captured by two Mi-35 helicopters and three boats.[72] The ship maneuvered for several hours, but was still captured using firearms and light-and-noise grenades.[73][74] According to Fedash, Tambov Special Forces participated in the capture of "Cherkasy".[75]

During the assault, there we no victims, however, control mechanisms were damaged. As a result, the tug "Kovel" pulled "Cherkasy" to the berth.[72][76] The next day the crew went to the coast and traveled to the mainland Ukraine, the last of the ship came commander Yuri Fedash, after which the Ukrainian symbolism was removed from the minesweeper.[57].

Return of captured ships[edit]

Following the capture of Ukrainian ships, Alexander Turchinov instructed the Defense Minister of Ukraine Mikhail Koval that "no warships should remain in captivity".[77] On April 19, 2014, the ships Kirovograd, Vinnytsia, Kherson, Kovel, Gorlovka and Novoozernye were returned to Ukraine and relocated to Odessa.[78][79] The transfer took place in neutral waters, where the ships were towed by the Russian side, after which the Ukrainian flags were again raised on the ships.[80] In May Ukraine was transferred to the minesweeper "Genichesk" and passenger boat "Dobropillya".[81][8]

As of June 2015, the ships Chernihiv, Cherkasy and Konstantin Olshansky were not returned to Ukraine.[82]

Memory[edit]

A memorial sign for the sunken ships in Novoazernoye

Russian side[edit]

On August 8, 2014, in Novoozernyi, the head of the State Council of the Crimea, Volodymyr Konstantinov opened a memorial sign to the flooded ships that blocked the exit of the naval ships of the Naval Forces of Ukraine. On the memorial plaque it is written: In memory of the ships that were flooded in March 2014 for the reunification of the Crimea with Russia.[83][84].

Ukrainian side[edit]

March 27, 2014, the commander of the Cherkasy minesweeper Yury Fedash was awarded the title of honorary citizen of the city of Cherkasy, and on August 24 the Order of Danylo Halytsky was presented.[85][86] April 4, congratulations were received by the crew of the minesweeper "Cherkasy" in the center of the city of the same name, where they were greeted as heroes.[87]

In April 2014, the rock band "Lyapis Trubetskoy" invited the sailors "Konstantin Olshansky" to his concert in Odessa and called the Ukrainian sailors in Donuzlav heroes. They also noted a video clip that was shot on a ship, where sailors perform the song "Warriors of the World".[88] However, it is erroneously believed that the video was taken to the Cherkasy minesweeper.[87] On April 6, 2014, before the match between Dynamo Kyiv and Kharkiv Metalist within the framework of the Ukrainian Championship, seamen from Kirovograd were invited to the stadium "Olimpiysky ", whom they met as heroes.[89]

On August 24, 2014, during a military parade on the occasion of the Independence Day of Ukraine, the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, said: "Ukraine will never forget the actions of the crew of the minesweeper Cherkasy, which until recently maneuvered and defended its ship in the Donuzlav bay".[90][91]

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