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Russia, Ukraine Vie for Control of Black Sea Gas Platforms: UK Intelligence

By Vusala Abbasova August 30, 2023

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While hydrocarbon resources are a key driver in the struggle for control over offshore platforms, these platforms also offer an array of strategic advantages. / Vincent Mundy / Getty Images

Tensions between Ukraine and Russia maritime and air forces escalated over strategically important gas and oil platforms, Boyko Towers, in the Black Sea, the UK Defense Ministry wrote in an intelligence update.

The update, which was shared on X (formerly Twitter), the UK Defense Ministry wrote that the gas and oil platforms, located between Crimea and Odessa, have become a subject of new skirmishes as both countries fight for control over the energy resources.

“Last week, a Russian combat jet shot at a Ukrainian military small boat operating near a platform in the north-west of the sea,” the ministry wrote.

The offshore platforms in the Black Sea have become a hotbed of contention since the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, the statement reads. Following Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the battle for control over the offshore platforms reached new heights.

“Ukraine has struck several Russian-controlled platforms,” the ministry pointed out. “Both Russia and Ukraine have also periodically occupied them with troops.”

While hydrocarbon resources are a key driver in the struggle for control over offshore platforms, these platforms also offer an array of strategic advantages.

According to the UK Ministry, the platforms can serve as forward deployment bases, enabling rapid military response capabilities.

Moreover, their infrastructure can be repurposed as helicopter landing sites, facilitating swift mobility across the Black Sea region. Perhaps most notably, the platforms provide an opportunity to position long-range missile systems, significantly extending the reach of both nations' military capabilities.

The Black Sea region has a history of being a hotspot for geopolitical tensions. The annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 significantly altered the balance of power in the area and heightened regional tensions. The conflict over the Boyko Towers serves as a continuation of these tensions, underlining the broader struggle for dominance and control in the region.

For Russia and Ukraine, the Black Sea is of particular importance for economic and geostrategic reasons. The seaports located there have always served their economic interests. The control of the Black Sea also means total control over the Sea of Azov – a small body of water surrounded by Russia and Ukraine connected to the Black Sea by the Kerch Strait.

The offshore platforms in the Black Sea are named in honor of Ukraine's former Minister of Energy, Yuriy Boyko. The Boyko Towers were purchased from Singapore, during Boyko's tenure as minister.