Ukraine attacks Snake Island

The Ukrainian military has launched a series of strikes on Snake Island (Zmiinyi), a significant outpost off Ukraine’s southern coast. It has been occupied by Russia since the early days of the war between the two countries and performs main two function. One is that it gives control of the sea lanes leading to and from Odesa, which is key to Ukraine’s grain export sector and which is under Russian blockade. The second is that it delineates the southern edge of Ukraine’s territorial claims in the border between Ukraine and Romania.

Since occupying the island Russia has fortified it with advanced air-defence systems and coastal defence anti-ship missile batteries. This equipment has been targeted in a series of ongoing attacks. Satellite imaging provided by an American commercial operator showed at least three areas of the island that had been badly burnt by explosions and fires.

Ukraine has not confirmed the method of attack, with its Operational Command South saying only that “Snake Island was dealt a concentrated blow with the use of various forces and methods of destruction.”

Further details have also emerged of Ukrainian forces striking three offshore rigs located to the west of the Crimean Peninsula, claiming that Russian forces had installed surveillance and communications equipment on the structures.

Ukrainian troops struck the drilling platforms, the so-called ‘Boyko Towers’, among them the platform Modu Crimea 2 (IMO 9522350) on June 21st. The attack severely damaged one of the three stationary production platforms on the Odesskoye gas field, identified as BK-1, and inflicted minor damage to two other production installations nearby, the BK-2 and BK-3. The BK-1 platform was leaning on one side, with firefighters trying to contain fire on the installation. While technically Ukrainian, the rigs have been controlled by Russia since it took over the Crimea in 2014.

A fire was also raging on the ‘Modu Krimea 2’, located next to the BK-3 platform at the time of the strike. There were 12 people on the platforms and five of them were evacuated. A search for several workers was ongoing.

Russia-flagged Modu Crimea 2 was built in 2010 with a carrying capacity of 4,500 dwt.

Governor Sergey Aksyonov, head of the government of Russia-controlled Crimea, said that three were injured and seven were missing after the attack.

According to a UK Ministry Of Defence assessment, “Ukrainian coastal defence capability has largely neutralized Russia’s ability to establish sea control and project maritime force in the north-western Black Sea. This has undermined the viability of Russia’s original operational design for the invasion, which involved holding the Odesa region at risk from the sea.”