One-Ship Ukraine Navy Defies Russia to the End

by Rachel Baker on March 26, 2014

One single minesweeper left of the Ukraine Navy, and for weeks it avoids the larger Russian forces. I’m sad to say it was captured last night, but…they avoided capture for as long as possible.

These 50 Ukrainian Sailors are or should be heroes to their country for holding out as long as they could and for trying like hell to keep the asset for their country. According to the Captain of the minesweeper, the Russians respected the Cherkassy’s long resistance, and he was able to negotiate for his crew’s safety.

This is one of the best stories of the whole Russian/Ukrainian conflict.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Cherkassy, in service since 1977 and armed with four fully loaded artillery stations, had avoided capture.

The ship tried to break out of Donuzlav Lake, nearly making it to freedom through the narrow passage to the Black Sea, but was bumped at the last moment by a Russian boat, forcing it to turn back, said Capt. Yuri Fedash, Cherkassy’s commanding officer.

A Cherkassy sailor sent out a video that showed the confrontation.

Ukrainians used water cannons against Russian soldiers on the nearby ship. Both sides were heavily armed, but Capt. Fedash earlier Tuesday said his orders were to use weapons only in self-defense, and the Russians hadn’t yet fired on his ship.

The Ukrainians also dropped explosive packages around their minesweeper to keep the Russians away.

Part of the Ukrainians’ strategy was to keep moving their ship up and down the gulf, making it harder for the Russians to pin them down.

Capt. Fedash said earlier Tuesday that his men still had fresh water, food and fuel to last a few more days.

Early on in the standoff, the captain ordered 12 sailors, who he said wavered in their commitment, to disembark. He said the remaining 50, including a few who boarded the Cherkassy from seized Ukrainian ships, were united, their mood “combat-like.”

The recent video showed some of them boxing on the deck to prepare for a fight. They slept in shifts and talked to their families by mobile phone.

Capt. Fedash, an ethnic Ukrainian, has a 7-month-old son at home, his only child. On Tuesday afternoon, he didn’t know how, or when, things would end. He did know he would probably have to leave Crimea.

“For now, we have a single order, ‘Hang in there,’ ” the captain said before the evening attack on the ship.

He soon stopped answering his mobile phone.

On Tuesday night, the Russians finally captured the minesweeper.

Read the whole article here:
WSJ Article

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: