Snake Island Becomes Focus of Ukrainian Strikes

Snake Island Becomes Focus of Ukrainian Strikes

And Why is This Island Important?


The past week has seen a series of Ukrainian air and drone strikes targeting Russian military assets on Snake Island, which has been under Russian control shortly after the start of the invasion. The most recent strikes were revealed in footage released today, which shows two Ukrainian Su-27 fighter jets performing a bombing run on the island through the view of a Ukrainian Bayraktar TB-2 drone. While the extent of the damage is unknown at this time, the size of the blasts are significant. 


There have been several TB-2 drone strikes over the past week, which have destroyed at least seven Russian anti-aircraft defenses and naval vessels:

April 30: ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft auto-cannon


April 30: 9K35 Strela-10 SAM system


May 2: Two Project 03160 Raptor class patrol boats


May 3: Communication infrastructure/ command post


MAy 6: 9K330 Tor SAM system

May 6: Project 11770 Serna class landing craft and Tor-M1 SAM system

What’s so important about Snake Island?

The Island plays an important role in Ukraine’s demarcation of territorial waters, but is also highly symbolic. As you all may be aware, Snake Island is where the saying “Russian warship, go fuck yourself” was coined by Ukrainian servicemen stationed on the Island as Russian warships Moskva (now sunk) and Vasily Bykov called for their surrender during the initial days of the invasion. The incident drew international fame and became a key piece of propaganda for Ukraine’s war efforts. Although initially believed to be dead after the island was bombarded, the servicemen were alive and taken prisoner by Russian naval forces and sent to Sevastopol. The soldiers, as well as 19 civilian sailors who attempted to rescue them but were also captured, were eventually released during a prisoner swap in late March. The island continues to hold significant symbolism for Ukraine due to the incident. 

Russia has maintained control of the Island since and have largely been untouched until this past week. If Russia is to hold the island, it will provide a strategic strongpoint for further domination of the Black Sea by providing anti-aircraft coverage, as well as being a point for naval operations and communications. The island, however, is very small and an easy target, as seen in Russia’s swift takeover that I just mentioned. Snake Island lacks the infrastructure needed for large vessels to dock, and thus relies on smaller landing craft, or helicopters, to transfer supplies and manpower. It also lacks any natural protections from attacks and is quite literally a sitting duck. Now, Russia is dealing with holding the island while facing increasing drone and air strikes that have hindered anti-air defenses and maritime assets from being stationed there, as well as any chances of properly reinforcing the Island. With the presence of Neptune anti-ship missiles, it also appears that Russian naval ships are reluctant to bolster the island as they would be in range.

If Ukraine was somehow able to recapture the island, it could be used to station additional Neptune missiles to limit Russian naval operations. This, however, this is unlikely as Ukraine lacks the naval vessels needed to do so. Ukraine started off this conflict with an already crippled fleet as the majority of their navy was captured in Sevastopol during the annexation of Crimea. Their remaining fleet has either been mostly captured or destroyed. There are vessels that remain in Odessa, but are not being utilized as they face the entirety of Russia’s Black Sea fleet and Bastion coastal defenses. Civilian ships could be commandeered for such a task, but like I said this likely won’t happen as they lack protection while Russia continues to hold a strong naval dominance over the Black Sea. There is also the possibility of an airborne assault. Even so, they would be dealing with what they did before and what Russia is dealing with now.

Ukraine’s strikes against the island highlight a few key aspects. The first is that Russia still has been unable to establish air superiority over Ukraine and the Black Sea. This will continue to prove difficult for their war efforts, especially in their push west towards Odessa, as TB-2 drone strikes will continue to target strategic positions and logistical convoys. This also shows that Ukraine has the capabilities to strike the Island and maneuver the western parts of the Black Sea without being intercepted by anti-air defenses. As I mentioned, the latest series of strikes also show that Russia will have a difficult time resupplying and defending the island as replacement anti-aircraft systems continue to be hit. Ukraine has claimed that the strikes have caused dozens of casualties among Russian forces stationed on the island and with it now seeming the Ukrainian is attacking any efforts to bolster Russian positions, it remains unclear what Russia’s next steps are. The island will continue to prove difficult to defend for Russia without a stronger naval presence to provide adequate cover.

Unbiased & Unfiltered News Reporting for 12+ years. Covering Geo-Political conflicts, wartime events, and vital Breaking News from around the world. Editor-In-Chief of Atlas News.
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