A Western official said that half of the combat aircraft of the Russian Black Sea Fleet have ceased to operate

LONDON (Reuters) – The explosions at the attached Saki Air Base in Crimea earlier this month ground more than half of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet’s combat aircraft, a Western official said on Friday.

The air base near Novofedorivka on the western coast of the peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, suffered multiple explosions on August 9.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Ukraine was constantly achieving “kinetic effects” deep behind Russian lines that had a material impact on Russia’s logistical support and a “significant psychological impact on the Russian leadership.”

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“We now estimate that the events at Sake Airport on August 9 have grounded more than half of the Black Sea Fleet’s combat aircraft,” the official said.

On August 12, the British Ministry of Defense said in its intelligence update that while part of the Russian air fleet was destroyed in the blast, the navy’s air capability had seriously deteriorated. Read more

The official said the Black Sea Fleet was struggling to operate much more than a “coastal defense fleet” that occasionally conducted missile strikes, and that its attempt to threaten an amphibious assault on Odessa had been thwarted.

The official added that the war in general was in a “semi-stalemate moment of operations.”

“Neither side’s ground forces have a concentrated ground combat force sufficient to conduct effective offensive operations that would in any way materially affect the course of the war,” the official said.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

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