Russia looks to reinforce troops on Snake Island, officials warn it could ‘dominate’ western Black Sea

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Fighting continues over Ukraine’s Zmiinyi Island, also known as Snake Island, as Russia looks to reinforce its troops on the small body of land located just off the southwest Ukrainian coastline in the Black Sea, officials warned Wednesday.

The island became a symbol of Ukraine’s resistance immediately following Russia’s invasion in late February after Ukrainian soldiers famously stood up to a Russian warship. 

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The United Kingdom’s defense ministry warned that Russia is “repeatedly trying to reinforce its exposed garrison” located on the island.

Snake Island, though tiny, has proven strategically important in Ukraine’s war against Russia as it is located roughly 30 miles from Ukraine’s most southern region.

A view shows fire on Zmiinyi (Snake) Island, Ukraine, in this screengrab taken from a drone video obtained by Reuters on May 8, 2022. 

A view shows fire on Zmiinyi (Snake) Island, Ukraine, in this screengrab taken from a drone video obtained by Reuters on May 8, 2022. 
(Ukrainian Ground Forces/Handout via REUTERS)

“If Russia consolidates its position on Zmiinyi Island with strategic air defense and coastal defense cruise missiles, they could dominate the north-western Black Sea,” the UK Ministry of Defense tweeted Wednesday.

The ministry said Ukrainian defenses have successfully kept Russian naval forces at bay by targeting its air defenses and resupply vessels with drone strikes. 

“Russia’s resupply vessels have minimum protection in the western Black Sea, following the Russian Navy’s retreat to Crimea after the loss of the Moskva,” the ministry said. 

Ukrainian servicemen captured from Zmiinyi Island, or

Ukrainian servicemen captured from Zmiinyi Island, or “Snake” Island, were brought to Sevastopol in Crimea, Feb. 26, 2022. Russian media said that the servicemen will be sent back to Ukraine pending certain “legal procedures.”
(Russian Defence MinistryTASS via Getty Images)

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Ukrainian forces last month sunk the Moskva after it was struck by two Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missiles – a significant loss given it was the largest Russian warship sunk in combat since World War II.

The Moskva was also reported to be the warship that called on the Ukrainian soldiers on Snake Island to surrender or face missile fire in the early days of the war.

The incident drew global attention after an audio recording of the incident revealed that a Ukrainian guard responded over the radio and said, “Russian Warship, go f— yourself.”  

All 13 Ukrainian servicemen were originally thought to have been killed after contact with the soldiers had been lost.

The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine released an undated video saying it destroyed a Russian landing ship near Snake Island.

The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine released an undated video saying it destroyed a Russian landing ship near Snake Island.
(Ministry of Defense of Ukraine)

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It was later revealed they had been taken as prisoners of war. 

Ukraine’s defense ministry on Saturday claimed it had also sunk a Russian Serna-class landing boat off of the island. 

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