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. In February, a naval source told RIA Novosti, “We haven’t decided yet what to do with the dolphins—whether to set them free or to sell them to aqua parks.” The Russians, apparently, are more than happy to take the creatures off their hands. "The Sevastopol State Aquarium resumes activities to train combat dolphins in the interests of the Russian Navy," the Russian news site Pravda.ru declared on Wednesday. "The work will save unique scientific developments that were abandoned due to Ukraine's reluctance to finance the research in the field." In other words: Silly Ukraine, you didn't realize how valuable your dolphins were!