Russia Uses Captured Port of Berdyansk to Resupply Southern Front

Berdyansk in quieter days (Andrew Butko / CC BY SA 3.0)

Published Mar 21, 2022 4:30 PM by The Maritime Executive

Russian state media reports that the Russian Navy is using the captured port of Berdyansk - located on Ukraine's Sea of Azov coastline - in order to funnel more arms, armor and ammunition to the front lines of the invasion of Ukraine.

Berdyansk is just 50 road miles west of the city of Mariupol, which has been encircled and besieged by the 8th Combined Arms Army and the Russian Black Sea Fleet. From the start, the operation has been characterized by heavy artillery bombardment, which requires extensive logistics support for sustainment. With relatively limited in-house trucking capacity, Russian maneuver units need to stay within about 90 miles of a supply stockpile or risk running out of ammunition, according to U.S. Army analyst Lt. Col. Alex Vershinin. The early seizure of Berdyansk has helped the invading force to meet this distance requirement for operations between Crimea and Mariupol. 

According to Russian state-controlled outlet Zvezda, 10 ships are assigned to resupply runs from nearby Russian-controlled ports to Berdyansk. "The southern flank of the special operation [invasion] can receive everything necessary at any time, including equipment and ammunition," Zvezda suggested. 

State-owned outlet RT released undated video footage of the delivery of one modern BTR-82A armored personnel carrier onto the pier at Berdyansk. The tank landing ship's pennant number has been painted over to obscure its identity, consistent with a recent practice observed at the Russian Navy base at Sebastopol. 

As the Russian Navy's amphibious assault vessels have played a relatively limited role in the conflict to date, this logistics role may be a useful alternative tasking. Deliveries like the BTR-82A may be sorely needed: Russian forces have lost more than 80 BTR-80/82 series vehicles to destruction, abandonment or capture, along with at least 1,600 other vehicles and aircraft, according to open-source intelligence tallies. The count is based on a cross-checked photographic database, and it is intended to provide an early minimum estimate of the number of losses.

Top image: Port of Berdyansk (Andrew Butko / CC BY SA 3.0)