The Ukrainian Navy has established a division of surface vessels in the Sea of Azov, announced Navy Commander Ihor Voronchenko, as cited by Interfax-Ukraine.
The division will be based in the ports of Berdyansk and Mariupol, and will include the small armored artillery boats “Lubny” and “Kremenchug”, the search and rescue ship “Donbas” and the sea tug “Korets”. In future, the division is expected to grow as new combat units are added.
Before the division was created, the surface forces served in the Triton tactical group, Voronchenko noted. The group consisted of two boats, as well as the Donbas and the Korets.
According to the naval commander, the group was also meant to include the artillery boats “Berdiansk” and “Nikopol” and the tugboat “Yany Kapu”. However, these three vessels were seized by Russian border guards in the region of the Kerch Strait in November 2018 for “illegally crossing the border”. One year later, Russia returned the ships to Ukraine, but with some equipment missing, including weapons, ammunition, computers and batteries. Nikolay Polozov, attorney to the captured Ukrainian sailors, claimed that these items are “material evidence in a criminal case”.
The Ukrainian Navy will soon obtain a Gyurza-M-class artillery boat which has been named the “Kostopol”. The vessel will be used to protect ports and sea and river links within Ukraine’s territorial waters and to improve the defense of the state border.
In February, the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service announced plans to create a system for monitoring the above-water situation in the Sea of Azov. For this purpose, the military built five observation towers. These should help Ukraine to “completely monitor the maritime border line”.