Mysterious Metal Spheres Wash Up on Ukraine Beaches

A number of mysterious large spherical objects have washed up on the beaches of the Black Sea between March and July, sparking confusion online and speculation that they may be linked to Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

H. I. Sutton, a defense analyst who specializes in submarines and other
underwater objects, posted two photos of the mystery objects on Twitter and several more on his website under the title Russia's Washed Up Invasion: Mystery Objects Found on Beaches.

On Twitter, Sutton wrote: "They look like mines but I don't think that they are. Leading theory is part of Kalibr submarine launch capsule but unconfirmed."

Warning for mines in Odessa Black Sea
A sign that reads 'Caution: mines' is posted at a beach on May 27, 2022 in Odesa, Ukraine, on the Black Sea coast. A number of mysterious round objects have washed up around the Black Sea since the war began. Yevhen Zinchenko/Global Images Ukraine/GETTY

The 3M-54 Kalibr is a group of Russian ballistic missiles, with variants that can be fired from ships, aircraft and submarines.

These missiles have been widely used to hit Ukrainian targets by Russia's Black Sea Fleet since the invasion began on February 24, with 30 missiles being fired on the first day of the attack alone.

Sutton's post sparked reaction online, with others users making suggestions ranging from gas generators to prototype mines.

One Twitter account suggested the objects could be a "pressurized air cylinder for forward control fins" on a "SA-8/9M33M2 SAM," a Russian surface-to-air missile.

In response, Sutton said: "This is now a leading theory, although size may not match (?). Possibly same in different missile. However, not convinced why this, and only this, keeps washing up."

"Lots of suggestions that parts of aircraft, eg fire suppression. Agree they look similar," Sutton added. "But reason [this is] discounted is that many of these same objects have washed up. And not other aircraft wreckage. We'd be looking at multiple aircraft down and always the same bit washing up."

On his website, Sutton said: "Amid the debris of war, mysterious round objects have been washing up on Black Sea beaches. Metal spheres, with a series of horns protruding, they have been reported in local media as mines. Indeed their nature seems obvious. But it is not, these are not mines."

"The spherical objects look like a mine," Sutton said. "They are quite small, about the size of the spherical warhead on a Soviet PDM-2 anti-invasion mine.

"But if you look closely they are quite light and they aren't heavily corroded. They haven't been in the sea long. And the 'horns' are actually facing downwards from the perspective of a mine. Their ends align in a way which suggests that they are actually fastening points."

Sutton repeated his suggestion that the objects came from Russian Kalibr ballistic missiles, which "explains the increased number of incidents" in recent months.

Newsweek has reached out to the Defense Ministries of Russia and Ukraine for comment.

On Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed his country's forces had uncovered a mass grave near Izyum, which was recently recaptured from Russian control.

"We want the world to know what is really happening and what the Russian occupation has led to," Zelensky said. "Bucha, Mariupol, now, unfortunately, Izyum. Russia leaves death everywhere."

In other news, Russia is suffering from "increasingly severe" manpower shortages in Ukraine according to a British intelligence briefing, which noted the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group has taken to recruiting from Russian prisons.