What Happened to Ukraine's Only Submarine? 

Ukraine has received numerous pieces of military equipment from allies across the globe during its war with Russia, which launched an invasion last February 24, but one thing it doesn't have is a submarine.

Russia provided Ukraine with a Foxtrot-class submarine in 1997 but took it back when it annexed Crimea in 2014, Forbes reported last year.

Rajan Menon, director of the Grand Strategy program at Defense Priorities, said that the submarine initially served in the Soviet Union's northern fleet.

"Toward the end of the Soviet Union's days, it was transferred to the Black Sea fleet," Menon told Newsweek. "And in 1997, I believe, it was given to the Ukrainian Navy. They named it the Zaporizhzhia. Because Zaporizhzhia is both a province and city in Southern Ukraine."

Zaporizhzhia Ukraine submarine
Russian naval flags are seen on the Zaporizhzhia, a former Ukrainian submarine moored in the bay at the Crimean port of Sevastopol on April 17, 2014. On February 7, 2023, experts told Newsweek that Ukraine no longer has any submarines. Yuriy Lashov/AFP/Getty

Before the annexation, Ukraine had some issues with the sub, which went back into service around 2006 or 2007, Menon told Newsweek.

"When the Russians took Crimea, they also took that sub," Menon said. "So the Ukrainians do not have any subs."

While Ukraine has not had any submarines in the current war, Menon said he doesn't think it matters, saying that this is "a land war."

"[Ukraine] has drones, they have Neptune and Harpoon missiles, so I don't know that having the submarine would be a big deal," Menon said. "In any case it's a moot point because you can't just buy a submarine. The sea is going to be a side show."

But Mark Cancian of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said a Ukrainian sub "would have a huge impact in the Black Sea," noting that the main issue would be "timeline."

"You're talking a year or two at least, to identify a submarine to give them and train up a crew," Cancian told Newsweek. "It's a long process and of course submarines are relatively rare and very, very expensive."

However, Cancian said that he "wouldn't be surprised" to see Ukraine looking for a sub in a post-war world. On the other hand, Menon told Newsweek that Ukraine would likely have other issues to take care of such as "economic reconstruction," which might take priority over building a submarine fleet.