After numerous assaults by Ukrainian forces, Russian soldiers have withdrew from Snake Island in the Black Sea. This action is a setback for Moscow’s military and likely threatens their control over crucial shipping channels for grain in the Black Sea.
The Russian forces were unable to hold the island, which is a tiny speck of land located approximately 20 miles off the coast of Odessa and has played a disproportionately important role throughout the conflict. The retreat occurred after persistent attacks by the Ukrainians, some of which were carried out with powerful new weapons from the West, made it impossible for the Russian forces to do so.
The struggle for control of the country’s maritime channels has repercussions that extend far beyond the fight for Ukraine’s independence. The Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea have been effectively cut off from shipping by the Russian Navy. This has stopped the flow of grain and oilseeds to the rest of the world, which has led to an increase in the cost of food as well as the possibility of food shortages and even famines in some countries, particularly in Africa.
While the United Nations and many western democracies have accused Moscow of using food as a weapon to weaken support for Ukraine, the Kremlin has tried to shift blame for the situation onto Kyiv, accusing Ukraine of refusing to clear mines from its ports. This is despite the fact that the Kremlin has been accused of using food as a weapon by the United Nations and many western democracies.
The Russians have had their sights set on the fortified island in the Black Sea ever since the first day of the invasion since it is of little significance other than as a base for Black Sea operations. The Russian pullout, which occurred barely a week after the Kremlin boasted about thwarting an effort by the Ukrainians to reclaim the island, looked to be another instance of Moscow dialling down its military objectives in response to pushback from the Ukrainians.
On Thursday, both parties gave their word that they would withdraw. After a weeklong battle against the island and Russian attempts to resupply the troops there with missile and artillery fire, the Ukrainians stated it had come after it.
According to the southern command of the Ukrainian military, it was claimed that the last remaining Russian troops on the island, which is known as Zmiinyi in Ukrainian, escaped the island overnight aboard two speedboats. “There are no more Russians on Zmiinyi,” Andrii Yermak, the director of the presidential office of Ukraine, stated. “There are no more Russians on Zmiinyi.”
In a statement, the Russian Ministry of Defense attempted to portray the withdrawal as a “gesture of goodwill” that would “not allow Kyiv to speculate on the impending food crisis.” This was done in light of the fact that control of the island is essential to the process of securing the shipping lanes. Because of the de facto embargo imposed by Russia, which is maintained by its warships and submarines, the Ukraine has been unable to export the approximately six million metric tonnes of grain that it did before the conflict each month on average.
However, there was no sign that the Kremlin was prepared to facilitate safe passage of Ukrainian warships that were departing from the port of Odessa. According to a report from the Crimean section of Radio Free Europe, five of the seven Russian submarines that are part of the Black Sea fleet were launched from port at Sevastopol, which is located on the Crimean Peninsula.
In order to provide its ground troops with further assistance, Russia made preparations to deliver strong surface-to-air missile systems to the island.
However, the Russian Navy started operating farther away from the coast of Ukraine, putting them outside the range of land-based anti-ship missiles that were given by the United States and other NATO nations and started arriving at the end of May. Around the 20th of June, Ukrainian troops resumed their assault on the island, during which they were successful in sinking a Russian tugboat that was transporting men and weapons to the island.
According to the British military, who said that it was the first demonstrated use of the Harpoon missiles, it is “very definitely” the case that the Ukrainians utilised recently deployed Harpoon missiles in the strike.
The effects of the war, as viewed from space, were revealed in satellite photographs that were published over the last week. These images showed fresh big scars dotting the 46 acres of rock and grass that rose from the water.
On Thursday morning, the Ukrainian military said that it had successfully destroyed another another Russian antimissile system using a combination of missiles and artillery. According to the statement made by the Ukrainian leadership, “Snake Island is completely ablaze, and explosions can be heard.” Given the island’s susceptibility to assault, it was uncertain if the Ukrainians would make an effort to reestablish their own garrison when the Russians withdrew their forces.