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Blasts behind Russian lines had major psychological effect on Putin – officials

The explosions in Crimea last week put more than half of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet combat jets out of use.

19 August 2022

Recent explosions deep behind Russia’s lines in Crimea have had a major psychological effect on Moscow’s leadership, western officials have said.

More than half of the Russian navy’s Black Sea Fleet combat jets were put out of action in blasts last week at the Russian-operated Saky military airfield in western Crimea – an area Moscow previously considered secure, according to the Ministry of Defence.

The Kremlin is busy seeking to allocate blame for the debacle and President Vladimir Putin is struggling to hide Ukraine’s success from the Russian population, as thousands of Russians fleeing Crimea have streamed into the country, officials said on Friday.

They added that the attacks had forced the Black Sea Fleet into a defensive posture and stymied Russia’s ability to launch a successful amphibious assault on Odesa on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast.

It comes as the war has entered a phase of near operational standstill, with neither side’s ground forces having enough concentrated combat power to launch effective offensive actions.

Russia is facing an increasingly acute shortage of stocks, even of basic munition, as well as manpower issues as it struggles to reconstitute its forces, the officials said.

Meanwhile, the head of the GCHQ intelligence service said Moscow had failed to gain ground in cyberspace against Ukraine.

“So far, President Putin has comprehensively lost the information war in Ukraine and in the West,” Sir Jeremy Fleming wrote in an op-ed in The Economist.

“Just as with its land invasion, Russia’s initial online plans appear to have fallen short.”

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