The continuing saga of Snake Island – TTG

Ukraine will fight for Snake Island as long as it takes – Major General Kirilo Budanov, Chief of Defense Intelligence

Ukraine has pushed Russian forces to abandon the Snake Island, a small but strategic outpost in the Black Sea, the Operation Command South said on June 30. According to the Ukrainian military, “the enemy hastily evacuated the remnants of the garrison in two speedboats and probably left the island.” Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed its forces had left the island. However, it called the withdrawal “a gesture of goodwill” rather than a defeat, adding that the troops “had completed their mission” and were withdrawing to demonstrate Russia’s willingness to allow for grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.

Andriy Yermak, head of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office, slammed the statement as “complete fake,” adding that Russian troops were pushed out of the outpost as a result of a “remarkable” operation conducted by Ukraine’s Armed Forces. “Russia continues to provoke a food crisis, and lie. They are still blocking our ports and destroying grain,” he wrote on Telegram. Yermak mentioned the most recent attack on the town of Zelenodolsk, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, that on June 30 destroyed a warehouse containing 40 tonnes of grain. 

Why Snake Island is so important

Snake Island became an infamous symbol of resistance for Ukrainians in the early stage of the war when Russia’s Black Sea warship Moskva arrived at its shores to request the surrender of its guardpost. In response, a border guard sent a message: “Russian warship, go f*ck yourself.” The Russian ship then bombed the island. The phrase went viral and became widely adopted among Ukrainian soldiers and civilians alike. The incident was later imprinted on a Ukrainian postage stamp. A day after the stamp was issued, Ukraine sank the Moskva ship using two Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles. Snake Island defenders were taken prisoners following the Russian seizure of the island, with most defenders later part of subsequent prisoner exchanges.

Located around 35 kilometers off the shore of Ukraine’s southwest Odesa Oblast and being less than a quarter of a square kilometer in size, the Snake Island remains crucial for control of the western Black Sea, according to Kyrylo Budanov, head of the Defense Ministry’s Intelligence Directorate

Since April, Ukrainian forces have been fighting to regain control over the island by bombarding Russian troops on the island with missiles and now artillery. “For Russia, as well as for Ukraine, Snake Island is a strategically important point as it gives control over absolutely all trade routes to Ukraine. In fact, it gives control over the entire surface and to some extent the air situation in southern Ukraine,” he said. Budanov added that the outpost was also crucial for Russia as it was the only region where it could try to land troops from the Russian-occupied Transnistria region of Moldova.

Oleksii Hromov, deputy head of the General Staff’s main operational directorate, said regaining control over the island would allow Ukraine to resist the Russian blockade of Odesa.

Comment: Gesture of goodwill my ass. Just like the attempted assault on Kyiv was a feint. Only a few days ago, Russia released a story of the heroic efforts of Deputy Fleet Commander Major General Mikhail Yasnikov in transferring a Pantsir air defense system to Snake Island by floating crane and landing craft.  HI Sutton of @CovertShores relays the tale.

According to the account, during the unloading, Ukraine hit the island with Tochka-U. No one was hurt. After 20 minutes, the anti-aircraft missile-gun complex was unloaded onto the pier personally by Major General Yasnikov. Now the propaganda gets even stronger… After 20 mins the radar started working on the Pantsir, it took up combat duty. Within a few moments, three anti-aircraft guided missiles were fired, which for a moment outstripped the gap of another “Tochka-U” aimed at our guys. Major General Yasnikov was then unloading a Tor-M2 with the crane when Pantsir engaged Neptune anti-ship missile that was heading for a floating crane. Um… maybe.” 

Don’t know about the heroic modern major general, but the Pantsir and Tor were recently delivered to the island. Too bad his heroics were for naught. A few days ago, the Ukrainians stopped attacking the island with missiles and began using artillery, probably the French Caesar and the home-grown Bogdana self-propelled 155mm howitzer. The Bogdana is similar to the Caesar in appearance and capabilities. It first appeared in 2018 in a Ukrainian Independence Day parade. The may be just one Bogdana in existence. Other say there are certainly less than ten.

Not to be outdone by Russia’s heroic tale of the modern major general, the Ukrainian MOD put out a slick video of the 2S22 Bogdana in action against the Russians on Snake Island. The artillery strike was adjusted by a TB2 Byraktar drone. It appears a smaller drone was first flown over the island to draw the fire of the Pantsir and reveal its position. The results of the artillery strikes are evident in that photo above and the admitted Russian abandonment of the island.

Will the Ukrainians try to reoccupy the island? Perhaps. I hope not. If they did, the occupying troops would probably be subject to intense missile bombardment from the Black Sea Fleet. Better to maintain fire control over the island with long range, and damned accurate, artillery and keep the Russians away from it.


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33 Responses to The continuing saga of Snake Island – TTG

  1. cobo says:

    Good work, Ukraine! Although I fully support the Russians in their homeland, Russia, I would like to see their offensive military capability destroyed, including their military outposts, the exclaves in Transnistria and Kaliningrad, and their capital ships, their combat oriented Navy. Then China. I don’t accept that Western Civilization is done. The transnational corporations and globalists, the UN and WEF, need to be cleansed from the natural world, as the future is not theirs.

  2. Steve says:


    “Snake Island became an infamous symbol of resistance for Ukrainians in the early stage of the war when Russia’s Black Sea warship Moskva arrived at its shores to request the surrender of its guardpost. In response, a border guard sent a message: “Russian warship, go f*ck yourself.” The Russian ship then bombed the island. ”

    That’s the problem with cutesy propaganda, it tends to live on long after it has been debunked. The Ukrainian troops sensibly surrendered en masse rather than be blown to pieces.

    But my understanding of the withdrawal is that it eliminates Ukraine’s and NATO’s excuse for food shortages. Now the Ukrainians can export at will. Provided they clear their mines first, of course:)

    • Worth Pointing Out says:

      “But my understanding of the withdrawal is that it eliminates Ukraine’s and NATO’s excuse for food shortages”

      I know that TTG and the rest will sneer at that, but it is actually a very important point.

      There has been a temptation for “the West” to engineer a global famine that could then be blamed on the Russians. That is not fanciful; that temptation did exist, even if you believe that western leaders are too goody-goody to act on it.

      But that temptation is now been removed, and that would have been a consideration when the Russians were mulling what to do with Snake Island.

      • TTG says:


        Russian withdrawal from Snake Island eliminates one impediment to the flow of Ukrainian grain. There’s still the Black Sea Fleet standing in the way. Perhaps escorts for grain carriers could reduce this threat. There’s also continued Russian seizure of the grain.

        • Fred says:


          what, pray tell, is stopping the flow of Russian grain, which is a much bigger export than Ukraine’s? Then there is Hollands order to farmers, to save the Earth from climate change of course:

          Then there is fertilzer, fuel, addatives, etc.

          • TTG says:


            Nothing is stopping the flow of Russian grain, no sanctions, no embargoes, nothing. What Ukrainian grain Russia isn’t stealing, or even burning, is largely being embargoed by the Black Sea Fleet. That is enough to risk famine across large parts of MENA and Sub-Saharan Africa. Russian grain cannot fill that void.

          • Fred says:



            “Nothing” is stopping them. Heck if you comment here without precision you were at a minimum excoriated, so I can certainly understand caution in the shipping business. Just what is a “comfort letter” though and why is the US Ambassador to the U.N. offering them If there are no direct sanctions? Are there indirect sanctions?

          • TTG says:


            Nobody’s comfortable dealing with an international pariah.

          • Worth Pointing Out says:

            TTG: “What Ukrainian grain Russia isn’t stealing, or even burning, is largely being embargoed by the Black Sea Fleet.”

            Ladies and gentlemen, our weasel-word for today is “embargoed”.

            The correct word would, of course, be “blockaded”, which TTG is wise to (no doubt deliberately) avoid using.

            Naval blockade is governed by the articles of the “SanRemo Manual on International Law Applicable To War At Sea”.

            The first article is this:
            “93. A blockade shall be declared and notified to all belligerents and neutral States.”

            That would normal be a “Notice to Mariners” (NOTMAR), and the only NOTMAR’s that the Russians have issued are those warning mariners to be wary of Ukrainian mines.

            The next article is:
            “94. The declaration shall specify the commencement, duration, location, and extent of the blockade and the period within which vessels of neutral States may leave the blockaded coastline.”

            Where is that declaration, I wonder?

            It is oh-so-easy to make glib comments of the “why, everyone knows this!” variety.

            But they very glibness with which they are issued tells us how very wrong some people can be.

            The Russians have *not* declared a naval blockade of Odessa. Their Black Sea Fleet has *not* made any effort to block a single cargo ship from entering or leaving that port.

            Not once.

          • TTG says:


            Moscow hasn’t declared a blockade just like they’ve refused to declare an invasion. I’ve provided you with a list of cargo ships fired upon or seized by the Black Sea Fleet. Call it whatever you want.

          • Worth Pointing Out says:

            TTG: “Moscow hasn’t declared a blockade just like they’ve refused to declare an invasion.”

            Your use of words does appear to be getting more and more sloppy.

            Nobody “declares an invasion”.

            I believe (it is hard to tell sometimes) that what you mean is that the Russians have refused to declare that this is “a war”.

            Which is true, but the reason for that has much more to do with domestic legislation, not because it avoids triggering provisions of international law.

            After all, as far as the SanRemo Manual is concerned its provisions apply to any “armed conflict at sea”, and no matter what label the Kremlin slaps on it this “SMO” is indisputably an “armed conflict”.

            If Russia wanted to blockade the port of Odessa then it would issue a Notice to Mariners to that effect. Simple as that.

            (And I’ll point out that it has never hesitated to issue NotMar’s between 2014 and the present w.r.t. Crimea or the Black Sea).

            As Frank Herbert used to write: The Forms Must Be Obeyed.

            Honestly, the visceral hatred of all things Russian is seriously clouding your judgement.

            Shit happens in a war zone, and occasionally a civilian ship ends up with a hole in its side that it never deserved.

            But if a participant in a war wants to blockade the enemy ports then it MUST declare that blockade, and it MUST define the duration, the location, and the extent of that naval blockade.

            The Russians understand that just as clearly as I do. They understand that The Forms Must Be Obeyed.

            But you? You, not so much.

          • Fred says:


            Lol you haven’t been paying attention to China and the other BRICs, not to mention all the EU nations buying oil and gas. No worries, once the European middle classes are successfully defeated the EU elite will cut a deal.

        • Steve says:


          The point is that Russia has not impeded Ukraine’s exports. The mining of the Black Sea and their (and NATO’s) refusal to do so. I see no reason for the Russians to now stand in their way. I know there have been Ukrainian reports that Russia is stealing their grain but no evidence to back up the allegations. After all, they do have a fair amount themselves and they’re exporting eastward.

          One other element in play here is that the Russians also seem to be signaling that they have no designs on Odessa, the loss of which would render Ukraine landlocked. Whether they could take and hold Odessa is open to question – as are many things in this war – but if they are so signaling it’s yet another example of Ukrainian and NATO propaganda about Russian “intentions” that falls flat on its face.

        • Worth Pointing Out says:

          TTG: “What Ukrainian grain Russia isn’t stealing, or even burning, is largely being embargoed by the Black Sea Fleet.”

          Simply untrue. Flat-out false.

          • TTG says:


            You’re as wrong here as you were with your last comment. Moscow just announced they are ready to ship stolen Ukrainian grain through the ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk. They will sell the stolen grain. At least it won’t go to waste. And yes, you are right about the proper term being “blockaded” rather than “embargoed” in this situation.

        • Worth Pointing Out says:

          TTG: “There’s still the Black Sea Fleet standing in the way.”

          No, it isn’t.

          No Russian warships has interfered with a single cargo ship leaving any Ukrainian port.

          Not once. Not ever.

          • TTG says:


            You’re not just wrong. You’re very wrong.

            – Yasa Jupiter — The bulk carrier, owned by the Turkish Ya-Sa Holding, was struck by a missile fired by Russian forces in the Black Sea off Odessa, Ukraine on 24 February 2022 and was damaged. She was on a voyage from the Dniepr to Constanța, Romania.
            – Millennial Spirit — The chemical tanker was shelled in the Black Sea off the coast of Ukraine on 25 February 2022. Its crew of ten were rescued.
            – Namura Queen — The cargo ship was struck in the Black Sea off the coast of Ukraine by a missile fired by Russian forces on 25 February 2022. There was no casualties reported and ship remains afloat.
            – Sapphire – On 26 February 2022, the civilian rescue ship was captured by Russian forces after trying to rescue Ukrainian sailors at Snake Island. On 25 March, The crew was returned as part of a prisoner exchange. On 8 April, Russia returned the ship to Ukrainian authorities.
            – Afina – On 26 February 2022, the bulk carrier was captured by Russian forces near Snake Island en route to Constanța, Romania. It was later released.
            – Princess Nikol – On 26 February 2022, the bulk carrier was captured by Russian forces near Snake Island en route to Constanța, Romania.
            – Banglar Samriddhi — The bulk carrier belonging to the Bangladesh Shipping Corporation was struck by a Russian missile at Mykolaiv and was set afire on 2 March 2022. One crew member, third engineer Hadisur Rahman, was killed.
            – Helt — The cargo ship, owned by the Tallinn-based Vista Shipping Agency, sank off the coast of Ukraine on 2 March 2022, likely after striking a mine. The Panama Maritime Authority later reported that the ship was sunk by a Russian missile. Four crew members were initially reported as missing and were later found. Also reported to have been captured by the Russian Navy and used as a shield against Ukrainian shellfire.
            – Lord Nelson — The Panama Maritime Authority reported that Russian missiles had damaged the Panamanian-flagged Lord Nelson. The ship remains afloat with no casualties reported.
            – Azburg — The cargo ship was shelled and sunk on 4 April 2022 during the Battle of Mariupol, after being damaged the day before by two Russian missiles. One crew member was injured.
            – Kapitan Belousov — According to the Ukrainian military, the Mariupol Port Authority-owned icebreaker was shelled, during the Battle of Mariupol, overnight between 7 and 8 April 2022. One crew member was killed and several injured.
            – Apache — According to Russian Ministry of Defence spokesman Igor Konashenkov, the bulk carrier, belonging to Turkey-based Misha Shipping, was fired upon by a patrol vessel of the Black Sea Fleet while in the Sea of Azov on 8 April. The bombardment started a fire to the stern which was extinguished by her crew. Konashenkov called the vessel a “Ukrainian cargo ship” and claimed that she had diverted from a convoy in an attempt to evacuate leaders of the Azov Battalion and mercenaries from Mariupol. Konashenkov reported no injuries, and that the vessel along with her crew were being escorted to Yeysk.
            – Smarta — Ukrainian reports claimed that the bulk carrier, docked at Mariupol, was shelled and boarded by Russian forces. Verkhovna Rada Human Rights Ombudsmen Lyudmyla Denisova claimed that the crew member was taken “in an unknown direction.”

          • Worth Pointing Out says:

            You are kidding, right?

            I am seeing just two vessels whose damage might raise some alarm bells: Yasa Jupiter and Namura Queen.

            I’m seeing two – Millennial Spirit and Helt – that were damaged by Ukrainian weapons.

            I’m seeing four – Sapphire, Afina, Princess Nikol and Apache – who were lurking or had the misfortune of being near active military encounters in either Muriupol or Snake Island.

            I’m seeing three – Banglar Samriddhi, Azburg, and Smarta – who had the misfortune of being in harbor when the Russians attacked those harbors.

            And I’m seeing one – Lord Nelson – where nobody knows what the hell happened or even really knows what the extent of its “damage” is.

            So I’m only seeing two activities that would require some explaining from the Russians, which is not exactly the slam dunk that you think it is and CERTAINLY doesn’t amount to a “blockade” of Odessa.

          • borko says:


            are you saying that all civilian ships are harassed / attacked in that area ?

            Is there a list of ships that conducted their business without incident ?

          • TTG says:


            I’m sure there’s a site that monitors international shipping, just as there’s a site watching air traffic.

    • leith says:

      There is also the matter of RU shelling Odesa and Ochakov with missiles. That has not stopped, so what shipping company will risk it? Plus shipping insurance rates for grain carriers going to and from Ukraine are though the roof. They will stay sky-high until the BSF is flying blue and yellow flags and Putin cries uncle.

      • Worth Pointing Out says:

        “Plus shipping insurance rates for grain carriers going to and from Ukraine are though the roof. ”

        Yeah, wars tend to have that effect on insurance rates.
        I don’t know why, but it does seem to happen often…

        “They will stay sky-high until the BSF is flying blue and yellow flags and Putin cries uncle.”

        I will advise you not to hold your breath over either.

  3. leith says:

    I agree the Ukrainians should not reoccupy the island at this time. Although they need to send some brave soul there to run up a Ukrainian flag to show possession as I believe Hi Sutton and other naval observers have mentioned. And I sure would like to see them put some decoy missile installations on the island to draw and waste enemy fire.

    That Bogdana 155 must have been sited damn near right on the beach in order to have the range to Snake Island. Unless maybe they had RAP rounds?

    How will the lessons learned at Snake Island affect the fortified islands in the SCS? Some of which are also claimed by the Chinese, Viets, Filipinos, Taiwanese, Malaysians, and/or Bruneians. But none of those are in artillery range that I know of. Except maybe some of the major islands of the Spratlys are within range of each other?

    • TTG says:


      The Bogdana went through trials with Turkish and Czech 155 shells, including the Czech HE ERFB-BB from the Excalibur Army Company in October 2021. They were hoping for a 40km range, but got a consistent 42km range. This is a separate, but similar, round to the US Excalibur 155 round supplied with the M777s.

  4. mcohen says:

    What a Island with an epic name. A cannon with an epic for the boys own annual.
    The big kahuna vs the snake.straight outta Hollywood

    Well peace in odessa came soon in June.i am hopeful.

    • leith says:

      mcohen –

      There is also the myth that the island contains the gravesite of Achilles. So might there be a sequel – the revenge of Achilles?

      • mcohen says:

        Looks like it .they targeted an apartment block in odesa.probably used to provide coordinates.

        • Al says:

          Russia is throwing old and unreliable junk into Ukraine as they exhaust inventory.

          • leith says:

            Al –

            They are also using anti-ship missiles in a land attack role. Those KH-22 ASMs they used on the apartment block in Odessa use active radar homing for missile guidance. Great for attacking ships at sea. But inaccurate for attacking land targets in an urban environment. There is too much radar clutter, which increases collateral damage.

            Maybe the Black Sea Fleet has depleted its stock of Kalibr land attack missiles?

  5. Christian J. Chuba says:

    I partly agree with you here. Yeah I think that Russia abandoned the island because of artillery strikes making it too uncomfortable to hold it.

    1. While Pantsirs can intercept artillery shells, it is definitely not cost effective to do so.
    2. The Russians were not able to suppress artillery fire from the mainland. A weakness? I think so.

    The Russians decided it was not worth the effort, kind of like I eventually run inside my house before I finish working outside because I cannot take having gnats fly up my nose anymore.

    • leith says:

      Christian –

      Losing 2 ships, several smaller boats, an early warning radar, several air defence systems, an MRLS, a helicopter, and likely hundreds of troops hardly seems like gnats. But I get your point that they are small potatoes compared to the other losses they have suffered.

      The bigger loss though is not the hardware and the troop casualties. Losing the island cost Putin:
      1] visual and radar surveillance of a key part of the northeastern Black Sea;
      2] an important flank for any amphibious landing attempting to link up with the Transnistrian puppet state;
      3] the Exclusive Economic Zone expanding out from the island including oil & gas rights;
      4] a bargaining chip in any future peace negotiations.

  6. Fred says:


    “the Exclusive Economic Zone”

    What nations recognized Russia’s possession of that island to grant such a zone?

    “a bargaining chip in any future peace negotiations.”

    Have you taken a look at the state of the EU’s economy, and ours, with the things sanctioned by the West? The bargaining chips don’t appear to be on Ukraine’s side.

  7. leith says:


    Uti Possidetis or Right of Possession may no longer apply in international law, but what nations were going to take it away from Putin. Other than Ukraine that is, and they already have.

    Bargaining chip? Ukraine was never going to use Snake Island as a bargaining chip. That dealmaking may or may not have been a pipe-dream of Lavrov. Or perhaps just a figment of my imagination?

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