Ukraine has launched a new attack on Zmiinyi Island (Snake Island) to render Russian forces and equipment on the island inoperable, the first of many to possibly retake the island back into Ukrainian control.
In an update from Ukraine’s Operational Command South, Ukraine claimed to have struck the island with a “concentrated blow.” They reported that the Russians had suffered “significant losses” but did not provide evidence for their claims.
“Snake Island was dealt a concentrated blow with various forces and methods of destruction, during which what the Rashists (Ruscists) proudly called the island garrison took significant losses. The military operation continues and requires information silence until its completion.”
Analysis of high- and low-resolution satellite images shows that several fires broke out on Snake Island between June 19 and 21. Yesterday, reports claimed that Ukraine had targeted the island.
Scorched earth marks visible on today's Sentinel imagery: pic.twitter.com/5GSq6Luukf
— Benjamin Pittet (@COUPSURE) June 21, 2022
The Operational Command South also stated that there were no changes in the composition of the Russian ships near the island, indicating they did not attack Russian ships that had been blockading their access to the Black Sea. However, as of June 20, there are reportedly four large landing vessels, five warships, and one submarine within the area, making it impossible for Ukrainians to use port facilities to send their grain and other products out into the world market.
Regional media later confirmed the attack as residents would hear the explosions and see Ukrainian rockets headed towards the islands. Through Telegram, the Russian Defense Ministry also confirmed the attack on the island, which they claimed started around 5:00 AM.
“On June 20 at 5:00 am, the Kyiv regime undertook another mad attempt to take possession of Snake Island,” the Russian Defense Ministry stated.
Russia claims they could repel the attack, which they characterized as “mad.” They also stated that Ukraine had plans to carry out a land and capture scheme after bombing their positions to retake the island. Furthermore, Russian forces claimed that their air defenses stationed on the isle allegedly shot down some 13 drones, 4 Tochka-U missiles, and 21 Hurricane rockets. As a result, Ukrainian forces were supposedly unable to push through with their recapture plans since too many of their drones and missiles had been shot down.
This report came after Ukraine had hit the Russian tugboat the “Vasily Bekh” with Harpoon missiles in the Black Sea on Friday. The tugboat was en route to Snake Island to replenish its supplies. Military analyst Rob Lee said the tugboat was carrying a Tor-M2KM air defense system, leading many to believe that the Russians were further enhancing their fortifications on the island. Unofficial Russian sources reported that 10 out of 33 crew members are missing, with 23 injured.
Ukraine Allegedly Attacks Crimean Oil Drilling Platforms
Local officials in Crimea have accused Ukraine of attacking Crimean drilling platforms in the Black Sea to hamper its oil and gas industry. These platforms are owned by the Chernomorneftegaz energy company, which was seized from Ukraine’s Naftogaz during the 2014 annexation of Crimea. The head of Russian-held Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, confirmed these attacks last Monday but did not state any concrete details of the attack.
According to Aksyonov, the platforms were hit at 0500 GMT, with some 109 people working on these oil drilling platforms. As a result, three drilling platforms were rendered inoperable after being hit, with work suspended indefinitely. Three people had been wounded in the attacks, with seven others missing.
“We confirm that there are three injured and seven reported missing. We guarantee that the search will continue,” Aksyonov stated.
The pro-Kremlin administration did not publish any official damage assessment.
Fire-detection filter on NASA satellite imagery pinpoints the burning platform. It's not the one people are saying
— H I Sutton (@CovertShores) June 20, 2022
Russia on the Defensive
In response to these attacks, Russia has shelled the Black Sea port of Odesa in retaliation. It was revealed that a Ukrainian food warehouse was destroyed in these attacks, with over 14 missiles being launched against Ukrainian positions within three hours. No civilians were harmed or killed during the missile attacks from Russia.
Crimean officials also stated they would be increasing protection and defenses over the oil platforms following the attack as these were deemed vital to their national interests. “Protection of important facilities in Crimea after an attack by Ukraine on the drilling rigs of Chornomorneftegaz will be strengthened,” a pro-Russia Crimean government official stated to TASS.
— Clash Report (@clashreport) June 21, 2022
“There are enough air defense systems in Crimea, the entire land part of the peninsula is covered, including the Crimean bridge,” Aksyonov stated, emphasizing that they are able to defend their “territory” against Ukrainian attacks.
SOFREP is still investigating the ammunitions that were used in both of these attacks. No photographs or videos have surfaced as well for the oil rig attacks in Crimea. Moreso, the Ukrainian Government did not claim responsibility for the attack on the oil rigs but did claim responsibility for the attack on Snake Island.
Ukraine may be trying to hamper Russian oil production by attacking these oil rigs as oil and gas are Russia’s primary export in terms of powering its own economy. At the same time, Ukrainians may possibly be gearing up to attack Russian vessels with their anti-ship missiles to free themselves of the blockade that is also hampering their own economy.
The back and forth swing of the war persists, with no side apparently getting an edge over the other in the east as morale on both sides continues to lower. Can these Ukrainian offensives stir up morale for the Ukrainian Armed Forces? It is possible, however, time should tell whether these small successes on their end may prove vital to winning the war.