The Kremlin is using trained bottle-nosed dolphins as part of the plan to protect its Black Sea Fleet at its main naval base in occupied Crimea as Ukraine continues its counteroffensive operations.

The Russian Navy has made “major enhancements” to the security of their base in Sevastopol since mid-2022, including at least four layers of nets and booms across the harbor entrance, British officials said Friday.

“In recent weeks, these defences have highly likely also been augmented by an increased number of trained marine mammals,” U.K. military intelligence officials said on Twitter in their latest battlefield assessment. “Imagery shows a near doubling of floating mammal pens in the harbor which highly likely contain bottle-nosed dolphins.”

Russia has trained animals for a range of missions, including using Beluga whales and seals in the Arctic. “But, the ones housed in Sevastopol harbor are highly-likely intended to counter enemy divers,” British officials said.

On Thursday, Russia said Ukrainian forces used airstrikes to damage a bridge linking the Crimean Peninsula to the Kherson region of southern Ukraine. Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014 and considers it sovereign territory and not part of its invasion of Ukraine. 

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However, Kyiv says it wants to reclaim all of its territory from Russian invaders, including Crimea.

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