Russia ghost ships actively hunted by Ukraine in deadly cat and mouse battle

Russia has long been suspected of operating a secret navy made up of overtly commercial vessels which are in fact transporting military hardware.

Despite Mocow’s attempts to keep the maritime logistics trail network in the shadows, Ukraine is believed to be actively hunting these ships.

Open-source intelligence analysts have compiled a report tracking these so-called “ghost ships” on journeys from the Russian military base at Novorossiysk to the country’s Tartus naval base in Syria.

As on land, Russian supply lines at sea are vulnerable to attack from Ukrainian forces.

Kyiv is said to have already come close to sinking one of the ‘ghost ships’ in what OSINT researcher Jack Crawford described as a “near miss”.

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Speaking to the Telegraph’s Ukraine podcast, Mr Crawford said: “Some of these vessels have already had near misses with Ukrainian maritime firepower.

“I think Ukraine is certainly, and I would say understandably, keen to inhibit these voyages.

The Research Analyst at RUSI added: “I think there is already a lot of attention from a security perspective on how to stop these ships.”

In August, the UK Ministry of Defence reported that Russian maritime supply lines were vulnerable to attack from Ukrainian Uncrewed Surface Vessels (USV).

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In one incident, a Russian merchant tanker (MT) Sig was disabled near the Kerch Strait apparently after being struck by a USV.

A MOD intelligence update published a few days after the attack stated: “Although civilian-flagged, MT Sig and MV Sparta IV have long been contracted to ship fuel and military supplies between Russia and Syria.

“Since 28 February 2022, Russian military ships have not been able to pass through the Bosphorus, leaving Russian military forces in Syria and the Mediterranean heavily dependent upon Sig, Sparta IV, and a handful of other civilian vessels.

“The attacks show that USV operations are increasingly a major component of modern naval warfare and can be turned against the weakest links of Russia’s sea supply lanes.”

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