Russia will use dolphins to protect its military base in Ukraine

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Last February, shortly before the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian Navy reportedly sent military dolphins to the port of Sevastopol, located in the Crimea. The marine mammal training program dates back to the Soviet Union, and was taken over by the Ukrainian military after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, only to be captured by Russia when it annexed Crimea in 2014. United States Naval Institute, these dolphins would be used to spot enemy divers who might attack the fleet Russian.

The US Naval Institute discovered that two packs of Russian military dolphins were positioned at the entrance to the port of Sevastopol – inside the breakwater – by analyzing satellite images of the Black Sea. You should know that Sevastopol is the most important naval base of the Russian Navy in this sea.

According to the US Naval Institute (USNI), the Russians will have to defend this main base, including several boats, from a possible Ukrainian submarine attack. ” Marine analysts widely consider dolphins to be an effective defense against divers ”, the institute reports. Thus marine mammals could be assigned the tasks of “counter-diving”, dissuading enemy divers from sabotaging the Russian fleet; the only way for Ukraine to do this, because Russian ships would be outside the range of Ukrainian missiles. Did Ukraine plan to attack the Russian fleet with divers? We do not know, But that’s what Russia fears anyway.

Military marine animal training is nothing new

During the Cold War, dolphins were already used by the Soviet Union to detect underwater objects such as mines. So marine mammal training programs existed at that time and in the same place: the unit was based in Kazasya Bukhta, near Sevastopol, where it still exists today. In 1991, the Ukrainian army regained control of the unit upon the fall of the Soviet Union, before returning to Russian control with the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

However, dolphins are not the only marine mammals that have been exploited by the Russian military. The USNI also reports that beluga whales and seals are trained in a unit in the Arctic, because dolphins are less protected from the cold than the latter, and are made up of thick layers of fat that insulate them from the cold. In 2019, a suspected Russian “spy” Beluga found refuge in a Norwegian port. Belts with the name “St. Petersburg Equipment” tied marine mammals, leaving no doubt as to their provenance. The discovery had earned the Beluga the name “hvaldemir”, an acronym for “whale” in Norwegian and the name of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Beluga Whale Facility was established at Olinya Juba, the secret naval base of the Main Directorate for Deep Sea Research, the intelligence organization responsible for the underwater espionage assets of the Russian Army.

The United States has also used marine animals for military purposes since the 1960s as part of the Navy’s Marine Mammal Program. Dolphins were initially used as torpedoes, and later were used to detect underwater mines and locate missing swimmers. Since last year, these animals have now been replaced by drones.

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