The Russian army occupied Snake Island in the first days of a special military operation in Ukraine. The garrison, consisting mainly of Ukrainian border guards, chose to surrender after warning of fire from the ships of the Russian fleet. At the same time, according to Ukrainian media, some of the military personnel were evacuated a few days ago.
Ukrainian border guards had a Burevestnik-1 radar station on the island, which detected large naval vessels 40 nautical miles (a little over 74 km). This equipment allowed them to observe both the sea and the mouth of the Danube, 35-40 kilometers from the Serpentine to the Romanian coast. The island is very small. Its territory is only 20 hectares (for comparison, the area of the Moscow Kremlin is 27.5 hectares).
The official representative of the Russian Ministry of Defense, Major General Igor Konashenkov, said that Kiev made an attempt to seize the island on the eve of May 9, which “resulted in disaster for the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”
“This adventure ended in disaster for Ukraine. The thoughtless PR campaign of the Kyiv regime to seize Zmeiny Island on the eve of Victory Day led to the senseless death of more than five dozen Ukrainian militants and military personnel of the elite units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the loss of four aircraft, the Russian army, ten helicopters, three boats and thirty drones aircraft,” he said.
The failure in the attempt to return the snake was noticed in Kiev. They also do not exclude a new attack in the future.
“Ukraine is categorically not satisfied with the state of affairs when Snake Island is not controlled by us,” said Kirill Budanov, head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (GUR). He explains this by saying that we are talking about “a strategically important point that opens trade sea routes to Ukraine and provides additional opportunities for weapons supply from the West.”
“Snake Island is, first of all, a good observation point. In Soviet times, a radar company of the air defense forces and a special detachment of the coastal surveillance system of the Navy, equipped with the latest radar surveillance equipment, were located here, – military expert, captain of the 1st rank of reserve Viktor Makarov told socialbites.ca. – Their task was to close the naval approaches to Odessa and control the airspace in this area. He followed the activities of NATO. Then the Serpentine looked the other way, figuratively speaking, and the Ukrainian army was already in the interests of the North Atlantic Alliance. provided.”
The expert believes that it is theoretically possible to place Russian radar surveillance stations in Zmein.
“They will be watching the skies of Romania, which is used as a transport corridor for the supply of foreign weapons to Ukraine. Monitor the coastal and sea situation and close the waterway in the direction of Odessa. At the same time, he further noted that such a deployment was “highly risky due to Ukraine’s continued attempts to attack the island.”
In the summer of 2021, President Zelensky visited the island and from there led the exercises of the Ukrainian fleet.
“On this island it is impossible to concentrate a significant force, both in terms of equipment and personnel, it is impossible to equip the warehouses with ammunition. There is no airport on the island, only helicopters can land, no moorings for large ships. But as an observation and headquarters point near Odessa and the Romanian coast, it is quite suitable, from here the reconnaissance aircraft can be used again, ”the military expert Vladislav Shurygin told socialbites.ca.
The expert added that the strategic importance of Serpentine is exactly in its position.
“This is the key to the river gates of the southeastern part of Europe – the proximity to the Danube Delta allows you to block the passage of ships using this river. Therefore, Ukraine will do its best to regain control over Zmein and will rely on foreign military aid. “I doubt that NATO armies will fully support Kiev with the use of their armies, but the West will certainly increase its arms supply,” he said.
Shurygin summed up.