If there's a geographical characteristic of Ukraine that the war of Putin has brought to the forefront of the minds of many, It is Zmiinyi Island, also known as Serpent Island or Snake Island. It's a tiny isolated speck of rock located within the Black Sea, some 20 miles away from the mouth of the Danube and measuring 700 feet by 700 feet, which is 0.08 sq miles. Snake Island leaped into the public's consciousness on February 24, when 2 Russian ships, the guided missile cruiser Moskva and the patrol vessel Vasily Bykov, demanded the surrender of thirteen Ukrainian border guards who were stationed on the island. They were met with the most dramatic reply “Russian warship, go f*** yourself.”
The Russians continued to strengthen Snake Island with SA-15 Gauntlet surface-to air missiles and close-range air defenses in the shape of ZS 223-2 gun and Strela missiles. They also set up several patrol boats on the island. If the Russians decide to station their S-300 there they could alter the nature of the conflict in the southern part of Ukraine. The S-300 has an operating range of around 120 miles. It would block the Ukrainian Air Force from operating over Odesa or Ukrainian territory between Odesa and the Danube. This is now more concerning due to the possibility of Russia operating an amphibious assault in the southern part of Odesa to thwart Ukrainian defenses and connect in a joint operation with Russian militants within Odesa and the Transnistria area of Moldova.
In the last week, we've watched Ukrainians start an extensive shaping process that is aimed towards Snake Island. “Deep” and “shaping” aren't just words and terms used to describe art. A deep attack aims to disengage enemy forces that are not committed. The term “depth” can be defined as distance or the amount of time it takes for the forces that are not committed to be on the battlefield. The shaping process sets the requirements for success for the commander's decisive plan.
The operation began on April 30th with Ukrainian Bayraktar U.S. Army TB2 unmanned combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs) conducting attacks against Snake Island's close-range defense systems for air.
The attack eliminated the immediate threat to UCAVs. On May 2, the UCAVs arrived to take over the patrol boats.
The UCAVs seized SA-15 (also known as TOR) and its Transporter-Launcher SA-15 (the Russian name is TOR) and its Transporter-Launcher and Radar (TLAR) on May 6.
On the 7th of May, Russians tried to rebuild the damaged SA-15. The UCAVs were awaiting.
Just a few minutes after the craft was destroyed, the two Ukrainian Air Force SU-27s paid an unintentional visit on the islands.
What exactly does this suggest? There are several possibilities. The first would be the Ukrainians plan to keep the island clean. In the absence of long-range air defense systems in Snake Island, its main function is to provide fixed air defenses for Russian Black Sea Fleet ships operating from Crimea. Since the Russian Navy is not eager to conduct military operations in Ukraine, the garrison on the island could manage about nine miles of airspace, which Ukraine could navigate without difficulty. Eliminating the defense systems has merits, however, it requires a lot of effort and risk for Russia to ensure that the island is secured and supplied. But, I've observed many indications that Ukraine would be willing to put such a focus on an area without motive.
The second alternative is more intriguing. Snake Island is about 170 miles away from the Black Sea Fleet's base, Sebastopol. The distance for Neptune's anti-ship missile is 170 miles. The Neptune anti-ship missile is 170 miles.
If the second option is available, the thing we're contemplating is a pre-planned attack that would eliminate the capability of Russians on Snake Island to resist a Ukrainian air attack in preparation for a major attack that would neutralize and destroy the Black Sea Fleet.
A combination between Neptune and British Brimstone missiles on Snake Island could deter the Russian Navy on the Black Sea. With the right Air defense forces in Snake Island and the Ukrainian coast, it could allow for Ukrainian air forces. If the Ukrainians can maintain this garrison, it can turn into an unstoppable defensive line that would put an end to any attempts by Russia to conduct an amphibious assault or use naval power in the conflict in Ukraine.