combat dolphins

Ukraine’s combat dolphins now belong to Russia

It wasn’t enough for Russia to invade and annex the Crimean peninsula, but now they’ve also commandeered Ukraine’s most unique — and adorable — naval asset: combat dolphins.

Over the past week, Ukrainian troops have withdrawn from Crimea and ceded control to Russia, but not everyone made it out cleanly. Among those left behind in Sevastopol are an elite dolphin task force, which has now switched national allegiance. And if you think these are your run-of-the-mill Flippers, you’re wrong: these badass dolphins are trained “to patrol open water and attack or attach buoys to items of military interest, such as mines on the sea floor or combat scuba divers trained to slip past enemy security perimeters, known as frogmen.”

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Ukraine Was Never Crazy About Its Killer Dolphins Anway

Today’s strangest headlines in global defense news come courtesy of the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, which reports, based on a tip from an anonymous aquarium employee, that the Russian Navy has enlisted the Ukrainian military’s dolphins. Ukraine’s sea lions have also “become Russian,” since they, like the dolphins, are housed and trained in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, territory now claimed and controlled by Russia.

Amid the Ukrainian army’s withdrawal from the southern peninsula, some are interpreting the marine-mammal annexation as a coup de grâce–the “final act of humiliation,” as The Independent put it. But this overlooks the fact that Ukraine was never all that thrilled with the combat-dolphin program it inherited from the Soviet Union.

In fact, the Ukrainian Navy was reportedly planning to shutter its program next month.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]