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Ukraine's Crimean fightback having 'psychological impact' on Russia


The fact that explosions in Crimea - a place previously considered to be well beyond the reach of any Ukrainian attack - were watched by thousands of Russian tourists, many of whom have since fled Crimea back into Russia, has had a psychological effect in Moscow, officials told the media. The Western officials, who spoke unattributably on background, meaning they cannot be named, said that Russia's Black Sea fleet has been reduced to little more than a coastal flotilla that is now having to adopt a cautious attitude due to Ukrainian attacks. They added that Russia's ability to launch an assault on the port of Odesa in western Ukraine is highly unlikely in the short term. On Wednesday, Russian state media reported that the fleet's commander, Igor Osipov, had been replaced in light of the attacks. The RIA news agency said the fleet's new chief, Viktor Sokolov, has been introduced to military leaders at the port of Sevastopol. Moscow also seems to be trying to re-arm its beleaguered fleet. State media reported that Admiral Sokolov told a group of young officers that they will receive 12 new vessels, alongside additional aviation and land-based vehicles later this year. He insisted that the fleet has been "successfully completing all the tasks set for it" during the invasion, Russia's Tass news agency reported. But on Wednesday, UK defence officials said that the Kremlin's plans have been "undermined" by the navy's failure to assume full control over the Black Sea. The Black Sea fleet has generally pursued an "extremely defensive" position and remained near the Crimean coast, they said.

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