In March of this year, Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine. In the process, they stole Ukraine's dolphin army unit. The small group of dolphins, about ten in total, went through "training exercises for counter-combat swimmer tasks in order to defend ships in port and on raids." They were allegedly even trained to use knives and pistols, which were attached to their heads. When Russia took over Sevastopol, they took ownership of the aquarium there, which housed the dolphins. Now, Ukraine is demanding that the dolphins be returned.
Ukraine has formal request for the dolphins to be given back, because unlike human naval officers, they were not "given the choice of defecting to Russia or traveling to mainland Ukraine to continue service to Kiev." Ukrainian authorities have said they have a facility which could house the dolphins for the summer, as they no longer have access to the Sevastopol aquarium.
Russia, not surprisingly, is having none of this. They have major plans for the dolphins. A Russian source previously told RIA Novosti that the government is taking their new dolphin commandos very seriously. "Engineers are developing new aquarium technologies for new programmes to more efficiently use dolphins under water," they elaborated, "Our specialists developed new devices that convert dolphins' underwater sonar detection of targets into a signal to the operator's monitor." They even took a jab at Ukraine's lack of dolphin development, saying, "The Ukrainian navy lacked funds for such know-how, and some projects had to be mothballed."
Currently, Russia and the United States are the only two countries with active military duty dolphins. Iran previously had two dolphins, however, they are not currently deployed.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.