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EDF intelligence chief: Confining Russia Black Sea fleet a major achievement for Ukraine

EDF intelligence commander, Col. Ants Kiviselg.
EDF intelligence commander, Col. Ants Kiviselg. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

One of Ukrainian forces' most significant achievements of 2023 has been to shepherd successfully Russia's Black Sea fleet into the Eastern portion of that sea, and in the adjacent Sea of Azov, according to Colonel Ants Kiviselg, who commands the Estonian Defense Forces' (EDF) intelligence center.

This culminated in the recent missile strike on the large Russian landing craft, the Novocherkassk.

Appearing on ETV show "Ukraina stuudio" Wednesday, Col. Kiviselg said that "Without a doubt this attack will once again increase the pressure on the Russian Federation to move its units as far away from the Crimean peninsula as possible."

"It is clear that such an attack requires very good planning, an understanding of where the Russian Federation's air defenses are," he added. "It requires good preliminary work and the coincidence of several situations."

"Furthermore they cannot make use of their ports in Crimea, which are suitable and efficient harbors in terms of their reception capacity, and they work quickly. But now the units need to be moved further, for example to the port of Novorossiya, within the Russian Federation itself, rather than the occupied territories," Kiviselg went on.

Other than that, there have been no significant changes one the front during the past week-and-a-half, he added.

"Russia has continued to try to pressure the Ukrainian side, and perhaps the most visible event on land has been the capture of the city of Mar'inka, Donetsk oblast, late last week, where the Ukrainians have withdrawn their units from. In other respects, there have been no major changes to the frontline."

Around Avdiivka, Ukrainian troops are holding out in their established defensive positions, while Russian forces have not yet been able to cut off this redoubt despite its practically having been razed to the ground.

"Currently, six kilometers of the northwestern corner are open, and the Ukrainians can replenish units that way," Kiviselg said.

However, if maintaining that position proves unreasonable, the order to withdraw is likely to be given, he said.

"So far, they have performed this task well, having exhausted the Russian units and expended a lot of [Russian] manpower."

Further Ukrainian mobilization – the minimum age at which men are liable for call-up was recently lowered from 27 to 25 – will hinge, in terms of its size, on the goals intended with that mobilization.

Mobilization could, for instance, relieve those who have been at the front up to now, or could form a part of preparations for an offensive operation, Kiviselg said.

Security expert Rainer Saks recently noted a change in Russia's own estimation of its achievements on the battlefield, from an offensive nature, to a more defensive approach.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Barbara Oja

Source: "Ukrainia stuudio", interviewer Epp Ehand.

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