Russian Navy ships can be seen in satellite imagery approaching the Ukrainian Coast. The Sentinel 2 satellite image, taken at 11:47 local time, shows at least 14 vessels.
The vessels were found by Naval News with the help of Damien Symon, an independent defense analyst. Preliminary analysis of the vessels suggests 3 groups. Two are made up of combatants, and one has several landing ships. The landing ships appear to have sailed directly from their staging position off the Crimean coast. Analysts are searching the imagery for more vessels.
Provisional identification of the ships
The northern group, in a line-astern formation, appears to be led by a tug boat or minesweeper. This vessel appears to be towing a mine clearing device. Behind it are two Ropucha class landing ships, another tug boat and a trailing Ropucha.
The second group, labelled Group 2 on the graphic, are in a square formation. These appear to be smaller warships such as missile corvettes.
The southern group, labelled Group 1, is led by the Slava Class cruiser Moskva. This appears to have two Alligator class landing ships, and the Ivan Gren class landing ship Pyotr Morgunov. There is also a smaller warship, possibly a Buyan-M class missile corvette.
While Russian warships have sailed close to Odessa during the conflict so far, this appears to be a landing force. A landing had long been speculated on, and there is credible evidence that it was planned. Previously the Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko has shown plans for an amphibious landing near Odessa. That was an apparent intelligence blunder as no landings occurred in the following days. However the threat was always present.
On March 14 a Russian convoy landed at Berdyansk on the opposite side of the Ukrainian coast. That action, on the Sea of Azov, followed Russian success on the land there and was unopposed. This is different however.
Any landing is likely to opposed. At the time of writing it is unclear whether the landing has taken place yet, or exactly where the vessels will target.