On the night of February 24, when Russian forces crossed the western and northern borders of Ukraine, the world’s attention was riveted on the fate of Kiev. Hardly anyone paid attention to the far south in the Black Sea, some 140 kms from Odessa, when Russian Navy attacked that night and captured the entire Ukrainian garrison on Snake Island, an obscure small clump of rock with little obvious value, just 46 acres of rock and grass.
But yet another massive attempt by Ukrainian forces on June 20 early morning to land troops on Snake Island signals that the Russian occupation remains under stiff challenge still. The Russians say they spotted a Global Hawk RQ-4 strategic reconnaissance UAV of the US Air Force at high altitudes near Snake Island, apparently feeding coordinates to the Ukrainian combat positions.
The MOD in Moscow issued a lengthy account (in English) on Snake Island during the daily briefing on Tuesday by Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, the chief spokesman. The statement said:
- “On June 20, at about 05.00 AM, the Kiev regime attempted to capture Snake Island.”
- “The plan of the operation composed by the Kiev regime was supposed to launch massive air and artillery attacks at Snake Island, to disembark troops and capture it.”
- “The air attack involved more than 15 Ukrainian attack and reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) adjusted by two Bayraktar-TB2 UAVs.”
- “Russian means detected a Global Hawk RQ-4 strategic reconnaissance UAV of the U.S. Air Force at high altitudes near Snake Island.”
- “Ukrainian UAVs were supported in air by S-300 air defense systems from their combat positions near Tuzla and Ochakov (in Odessa Region).”
- “Missile and artillery attacks at Snake Island were launched by Ukrainian Tochka-U ballistic missiles, Uragan multiple rocket launchers and M777 155-mm howitzers from their combat positions to the west from Odessa and in Kubansky island.”
- “Russian air defence means (Pantsir air defense missile and cannon system and Tor air defense missile system) have destroyed all the destruction means of the enemy launched at Snake Island.”
- “The destroyed targets were: 13 UAVs, 4 Tochka-U missiles and 21 projectiles of Uragan multiple rocket launcher.”
- “No Ukrainian destruction means have reached their targets in Snake Island.”
- “The unsuccessful fire attack forced the enemy to abandon the landing to Snake Island.”
Control over Snake Island is of strategic importance. Located near the southern coast of Odessa, it is a necessary springboard for the expected Russian operation on that port city in a conceivable future. By the same token, the removal of the Russian control of Snake Island becomes important for Kiev.