Ukraine de-occupied the Snake Island. It was the most important link in the chain of Russia-deployed means of monitoring the situation in and over the sea
Snake Island is liberated: Russian troops hastily left the island in the Black Sea under the fire of Ukrainian artillery. In Russia, the escape of its soldiers was called a “gesture of goodwill.” Of course, this is not the case at all.
“Snake Island, in fact, over the last week has turned into a huge graveyard for Russians,” – Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the head of the President’s Office, told LIGA.net.
How and with what weapons did the Ukrainian army eliminated the occupiers on Snake Island, why a small piece of land in the Black Sea is considered a strategically important point, and what its de-occupation will bring: analysis by LIGA.net – in short.
WHAT HAPPENED. The operational command “South” reported in the morning of June 30 that the remnants of the Russian military garrison on two boats hastily left Snake Island which is located 120 km from Odesa. This island was captured by the invaders on the first day of the great war, February 24.
The OC [operational command] noted that the Ukrainian military successfully conducted a military operation during the night – they launched missile and artillery strikes on the island: “Now there is a fire raging on Snake Island, explosions are heard. Intelligence is engaged in establishing the final results of the operation.”
The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valery Zaluzhny, said that the Russians “could not withstand the fire of our artillery, missile and air strikes.” The Ukrainian self-propelled howitzer “Bohdana” played an important role in the liberation of the island, he added.
Russia admitted that the Armed Forces of Ukraine knocked it out of Snake Island, but called the escape of its troops “a step of goodwill” for the “organization of a humanitarian corridor” for the export of grain from Ukraine.
The hasty departure of the Russians from Snake Island is a tactical escape, [adviser to the president of Ukraine] Podolyak says to LIGA.net. There is no goodwill here, it is determined by the effective actions of the Ukrainian military – and only that.
“The change in the quality of conducting artillery fire on the island, a significant increase in aimed fire, and large losses in manpower and equipment forced the Russian command to make a decision to retreat. The losses of the Russians in this direction were counted in dozens. The logistics of their deliveries were almost completely controlled by our artillery,” – he said.
Russia is trying to downplay its defeats, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba commented on the Kremlin’s lies. But this should not mislead partners and reduce support for Ukraine.
WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT. Snake Island is of strategic importance.
1) Control over maritime trade routes. “This is, in fact, the control of the entire surface and, to a certain extent, air situation in the south of Ukraine,” Kyrylo Budanov, head of the GUR, said in May. According to him, whoever controls the island can at any moment block the movement of civilian ships in all directions to the south of Ukraine.
Although this will not solve the problem of grain export, Podolyak believes, everything related to grain evacuations has nothing to do with the flight of Russians: “The problem with the evacuation of Ukrainian grain by sea rests on the absolute lies of the Russian political elite, which… uses the grain issue as a method of global blackmail, to force Ukraine to sit at the negotiating table.”
2) The threat of the landing of Russian marines. “Theoretically, this is the only… region through which Russia can try to land a tactical airborne assault on the territory of Transnistria,” Budanov explained.
3) Positions of the Black Sea Fleet. After the loss of the cruiser “Moskva”, the Russian command transferred several air defense systems to the Snake Island for the defense of its warships in the Black Sea. According to British intelligence, the “Tor” and “Panzyr” complexes were located on the island.
4) Observation of the situation in the Black Sea. In 2014, after seizing Crimea, the Russians “squeezed” the infrastructure of Chornomornaftogaz in the northwestern part of the Black Sea out of Ukraine, Pavlo Lakiychuk, a retired military sailor (captain 1st rank, Navy), head of military programs at the “Strategy of the 21st Century” center, reminds LIGA.net . This is the Odesa, Golitsyn deposit with a chain of gas production facilities.
“They threw marines and special forces at them. And then they placed the means of monitoring the situation at sea on the objects,” he explains.
Snake Island was a final point in this chain: “Control over it allowed the Russians to control the Danube ports, the exits from the Danube, the sea border between Romania and Ukraine. In fact, the island closed a chain that cut us off from the sea altogether.”
Artillery “cleansed” Snake Island for several weeks, and the Navy sank approaching ships [with anti-ship missiles]. The hot phase began in mid-June.
“For about 10 days, with a short break, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been carrying out an operation to destroy the enemy in the Black Sea. One of its elements is the clearing of military facilities: surveillance equipment and air defense on Snake Island. At the same time, for some “unknown reasons”, several Boyko towers from this chain exploded. They are still burning,” Lakiychuk emphasized.
According to him, Ukraine destroyed the “eyes and ears of the enemy” in the Black Sea.
REFERENCE. In two months, the Armed Forces of Ukraine destroyed Serna amphibious assault boat with the Tor anti-aircraft system near the Snake Island; two amphibious assault boats of the Raptor type; helicopter with landing party; tugboat of the Black Sea Fleet with anti-aircraft defense system, ammunition and weapons – “Vasily Bekh”; at least four Pantsir-S1 missile systems; radar station; means of intelligence.
WHAT’S NEXT. Snake Island will either be Ukrainian or uninhabited, said Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of the National Security Council, probably hinting that Ukrainian troops may return to the island after some time.
The de-occupation of Snake Island is only the first step towards ending Russia’s dominance in the northwest of the Black Sea. “I wouldn’t call it a strategic victory from a military point of view. It’s such an operational-tactical victory, after which a lot of work needs to be done. And our military will carry it out,” Lakiychuk believes.
Russian troops hid from possible strikes of Ukraine under the coast of Crimea. This will not help them, he believes: “From the north of Ukraine, and now Snake Island, they ran like that – only their feet sparkled. Although the gesture of goodwill from the cruiser “Moskva” turned out to be even better.”
“But it must be remembered that although they now have a problem with the surveillance system, their effectiveness in the water area will be significantly reduced, but their striking forces remain, cruise missile carriers remain,” added the former military sailor. “They can hit military or civilian ships, and may continue to attack our cities. This danger, unfortunately, has not been eliminated.”
UPDATED: Ukrainian military personnel control Snake Island with the help of weapons and aviation, but there are plans to establish physical control over the island as well. This was announced by the Deputy Chief of the Main Operational Department of the General Staff Oleksiy Gromov. The island is currently controlled by long-range artillery, missile forces and aviation.
The final results of the operation on Snake Island are still being investigated.