October 4, 2022

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Russia also massed dolphins in Ukraine

A series of satellite images of the port of Sevastopol in Crimea indicates that Russia is using trained dolphins in the war in Ukraine, possibly as a form of protection from enemy interference. A submarine expert working with the US Naval Institute (USNI), a US military consortium that studies defense issues, analyzed several images taken by Maxar Technologies and concluded that in February, before the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, two seaports were built for cetaceans. At the port entrance.

The purpose of mobilizing marine mammals is to contribute to the protection of the naval base in Sevastopol, which has an important strategic role for Russia: it can be used to prevent Ukrainian divers from infiltrating the port to sabotage Russian ships. H.I. Sutton, a USNI expert, believes the fences are the same that Russia erected in 2018 in Tartus, Syria. A spokesperson for Maxar Technologies he said to NBC News which the company agrees with the Sutton analysis.

It has long been known that Russia has a military training program for seals and cetaceans. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union implemented one right at the Sevastopol Naval Base: animals were trained to search for mines on the sea floor or perform other similar tasks, since they can reach great depths and thanks to their natural ability to echolocationThey are very effective in finding underwater objects. At that time, the United States also had a training program for dolphins and sea lions in California: they were used, in turn, to locate mines – they were mobilized during the Vietnam War and then in 2003 in the Persian Gulf during the Iraq War. .

In 1991, the Sevastopol base was handed over to Ukraine, which reused the animals in a treatment project with disabled children. But when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, the dolphin aquarium returned to the Russian Navy (Ukraine unsuccessfully requested their extradition), and it resumed with military training, according to reports at the time. from Moscow Times. In 2016, the Russian Ministry of Defense published an advertisement for the purchase of five dolphins for a training program: the advertisement did not mention the purpose of the program, but said that the dolphins should have healthy teeth. Shortly after it was posted, the ad was removed from the internet.

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In 2019 a group of fishermen in northern Norway He came across a beluga wearing a belt. Although this was never confirmed by the Russian authorities, it was assumed that cetaceans were associated with the Russian Navy, and that they escaped or were lost during training.