Russian Forces Thwart Large-Scale Ukrainian Assault to Seize Snake Island: MoD
16:29 GMT 09.05.2022 (Updated: 17:39 GMT 09.05.2022)
Ostrov Zmeiny (lit. “Snake Island” or “Serpent Island”) became the stuff of Internet legend in February after Ukrainian and Western media reported that its defenders had all been killed while bravely telling a Russian warship to “go f*ck yourself”. Later, it was revealed that the Ukrainians were taken alive, and released in a prisoner exchange.
The Russian military has thwarted an attempt by the Ukrainian military to recapture Snake Island, Ministry of Defence spokesman Igor Konashenkov has announced.
"From 7 May, on direct orders from [Ukrainian President] Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian General Staff, with the direct participation of advisers from the United States and Britain, planned a major provocation to seize Snake Island. As a result of appropriate actions by a unit of the Russian Armed Forces situated on the island, the Ukrainian provocation was thwarted. The enemy suffered heavy losses", Konashenkov said in a briefing Monday.
Ukrainian troops made several attempts to conduct a combined land, sea and air assault on the island, hoping to secure control over the north-western area of the Black Sea, according to the MoD spokesman.
Over 50 saboteurs were killed in the assault attempts, Konashenkov said.
Additionally, he said, four Ukrainian aircraft, including three Su-24 attack jets and one Su-27 fighter, and four helicopters - three troop-carrying Mi-8 choppers and one Mi-24 helicopter gunship - were shot down during operations to try to secure the island.
Three Ukrainian Project 58181 Centaur-class fast assault craft boats were also destroyed, Konashenkov said.
Theatrewide, Konashenkov reported that some 29 Ukrainian-operated unmanned aerial vehicles, including eight Turkish-made Bayraktar TB-2 attack drones, were shot down over the past 48 hours. Four Bayraktars were destroyed on Monday afternoon alone, the officer said.
Konashenkov's statement follows reports by Ukrainian and Western media earlier this week that Bayraktars had sunk three Russian landing craft with 46 souls on board, and that two Russian surface-to-air missile systems had been destroyed by Ukrainian Su-27s. The Ukrainian side separately claimed that Russian military and communications infrastructure was destroyed in attacks conducted on 1 May. In a statement Saturday, the Ukrainian Defence Ministry said that "the traditional parade of the Russian Black Sea fleet on May 9 this year will be held near Snake Island - at the bottom of the sea".
With a combined area of just 0.17 square km, Snake Island is a rocky and barren formation of land jutting out of the Black Sea about 140 km south of the port city of Odessa. The island of about 100 residents is situated 40 km from Romania, a NATO member. Despite its small size, the island's position has made it the centre of strategic confrontation between empires, including the Byzantines versus the Ottomans, the Russian Empire versus the Ottoman Empire, the Russian Empire versus Germany in World War I, and Axis forces versus the Soviet Union in World War II. Snake Island became part of Ukraine after the collapse of the USSR, but Romania has claimed it for itself, citing disagreements with Kiev about the delimitation of the continental shelf.