The specially trained mammals were seized when Russia annexed Crimea in March, and now Moscow has officially ruled out handing them back.
The combat dolphins are trained for military duties at the Crimean State Oceanarium, which was inherited by Ukraine when the Soviet Union collapsed 23 years ago.
Acting Sevastopol governor Sergei Menyailo said: ‘The jurisdiction over this facility has been fully transferred to the Russian Defence Ministry.’
Moscow has taken charge of 13 elite unit of dolphins and a number of sea lions.
The creatures are trained to hunt for mines, plant bombs on hostile ships or attack enemy divers with special knives or pistols fixed to their heads.
Others were schooled for anti-sabotage and rescue missions.
NATO is now running constant patrols in the Black Sea due to the Ukrainian crisis, which means in theory that Russia could deploy them against Western ships.
Four other dolphins used in Sevastopol in helping to treat children suffering from cerebral palsy, mental disorders and psychological stress have been moved to civilian duties by the Russians and will continue this valuable work.
In March, the Russian media reported that the dolphins had ‘defected’ to Moscow – along with many Ukrainian forces in Crimea – but this is the first official confirmation that the mammals’ commander in chief is now Vladimir Putin.
In July a Ukrainian official demanded that the dolphins should be handed back to Ukraine.
‘The military dolphins need to be returned to our country in the same way that Russia returned Ukraine’s seized military equipment,’ he said.
Last year three of five spy dolphins went absent without leave in the Black Sea – apparently in search of love.
‘They deserted a naval exercise and went on manoeuvres of an amorous kind,’ said a source. ‘They swam away to look for mates.’
Later they returned to duties.Yury Plyachenko, a former Soviet naval anti-sabotage officer, explained that this was something that had to be taken into account in working with the 007 mammals.
‘If a male dolphin saw a female dolphin during the mating season, then he would immediately set off after her. But they come back in a week or so.’
The Sevastopol facility is one of only two such combat dolphin training centres in the world. The other is run by the US Navy in San Diego.
Full story and video: Daily Mail