Before Russia's absorption of Crimea, Ukraine had the most serious maritime power potential in the Black Sea. Crimea provided Kiev with the best Black Sea port, Sevastopol, and with the longest coastline and the largest continental shelf in the region. However, Ukraine's naval power has been constrained by critical funding restrictions and structural challenges. Kiev's fleet comes from the spilt of the ex-Soviet Black Sea Fleet concluded with Moscow in 1997 and is characterized by a very low serviceability rate. Ukrainian navy has only 1 high sea capable vessel, the frigate Hetman Sagaidachny
, and its only sub, a Soviet-era Foxtrot
type submarine, is not fit for battle. Ukraine however planned to modernize its fleet through the implementation of a €1,5 billion corvette construction program approved by the Ukrainian government in March 2009. According to the initial program, 10 units of the codenamed Project 58250 corvette were ordered, but due to financial difficulties, Kiev cut the program down
to 4 units in 2010. The lead ship unit, the Vladimir Veliky
, is being built in Chernomorsky Shipyard (Nikolaiev) with the contribution of several western companies, including the German Rheinmetall. The delivery of the Vladimir Veliky
was scheduled for 2015, with 3 other units initially planned to be commissioned by 2021. However, the ongoing crisis as well as the critical economic situation in Ukraine is likely to seriously hamper the completion of this program. Besides, the bulk of Ukraine's navy was based in Crimean naval facilities, and after its military operations in the peninsula, Russia seized 70 Ukrainian warships. Nevertheless, taking into account their poor global condition, Moscow started to return the vessels to Ukraine, and on April 11, 2014, the first batch of Ukrainian warships was tugged to Odessa. In July 2015, Russia stated it was ready to return
the last 20 vessels to Ukraine out of the 70 seized in March 2014. Due to the annexation of Crimea, Ukraine's maritime potential and naval power is dramatically questioned. However, since Crimea is not likely to return to Ukraine in the near future, Kiev should resize its fleet by decommissioning old and now unnecessary units.