Combat dolphins deployed by Putin as underwater ‘guard dogs’ in Ukraine war

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    Russia's “combat dolphin” force has been moved closer to the front line of the invasion with Ukraine, as President Vladimir Putin looks set to unleash them into battle.

    The dolphin army doubled in size earlier this year, and have been trained at the country's Sevastopol naval base in Crimea. Several countries have trained dolphins for underwater military missions such as detecting mines, helping detect lost equipment on the sea bed, and to act as underwater 'guard dogs' against attack.

    The idea originated with the US and Swedish navies in the early 1960s and was soon picked up in the Soviet Union. With the collapse of the USSR, the entire Soviet combat dolphin programme was handed over to Ukraine but after the annexation of Crimea in 2014 the main base for the dolphins was once again in Russian hands.

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    And satellite images now indicate dolphin sea pens at Novoozerne, 56 miles to the north, closer to where Ukrainian special forces have made incursions and landed on the Crimean peninsula. Novoozerne is a former Soviet submarine base where Russia has deployed missile corvettes, landing craft and some support vessels including a submarine support ship – and now combat dolphins.

    The Russian navy is known to have bought a number of additional bottlenose dolphins in 2016. Evidence obtained by Naval News shows that the number of dolphin pens at Sevastopol has increased from four to seven in recent months.

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    “Russia has also increased defences in other bases and ports around Crimea,” reports Naval News. “Similar defensive measures have been put in place at key submarine bases in the Arctic, far out of range of the Ukrainian threat.” And a source said: “The dolphin deployment to Novoozerne with Putin putting them in harm’s way – may indicate they are seen as militarily useful.

    “Putin’s forces appear increasingly worried about Ukraine targeting Crimea, and severing supply lines to the peninsula, as a prelude to recapturing the territory. Or the dolphin move could suggest desperation from the Russians.”

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    • Vladimir Putin
    • Military
    • Russia
    • Russia Ukraine war
    • Ukraine
    • Animals

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