The Russian military abandoned Snake Island on Thursday, relinquishing the island known for a dramatic confrontation between a Ukrainian border guard and a Russian warship at the start of the war.
Officials of the Russian and Ukrainian military confirmed that the last Russian personnel fled the island, according to the New York Times.
Ukrainian sources described the Russians fleeing the island on speedboats after missile strikes created great plumes of smoke.
Nothing prompts goodwill gestures better than the smell of missile hits in the morning. pic.twitter.com/5H46bNuCLj
— Illia Ponomarenko 🇺🇦 (@IAPonomarenko) June 30, 2022
The use of French-made “Caesar” artillery pieces was reportedly crucial in forcing the Russian retreat from the island.
Russia quits Snake island.
– Russian mil telegram: trying to retain control of the island under Ukrainian fire from French Caesar shore artillery was a suicide mission
– Russian MoD: withdrawal is a voluntary gesture of goodwill to allow grain exports
— Roland Oliphant (@RolandOliphant) June 30, 2022
The Russian Ministry of Defense described the retreat as “a gesture of goodwill” intended to prevent Ukraine from speculating on an impending food crisis.
Russian MOD officials admitted that constant Ukrainian strikes had made holding the strategic island difficult and that they withdrew their personnel to prevent further casualties.
Russian MOD Telegram reposted some claims re Snake Island:
-The strategic site has already fulfilled its function
-Constant attacks from Ukraine,difficult to hold
-A lot of resources were being used up to hold it
-Withdrew to prevent Rus losses
(& brief mention of grain exports)
— Will Vernon (@BBCWillVernon) June 30, 2022
Snake Island has been critical to Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports, which prevents the former from exporting the large supplies of grain it did before the war.
Snake Island has a unique tactical position in the Black Sea that made it a sought position by both sides in the war since the conflict’s inception.
The island was the scene of intense combat and bombardment throughout the war, with Ukrainian drones bombing the Russian garrison dispatched to the small island.
The Ukrainian military released a drone footage video of artillery strikes on the island earlier this month.
The Ukrainian army released a video of the attack on Snake Island, using tb2 and self-propelled 2S22 Bohdana 155 self-propelled guns. It is estimated that there are also self-produced 155 guided artillery shells.#Ukraine #Kyiv #UkraineRussiaWar pic.twitter.com/Nlljibe0M7
— 番外联邦 🇺🇦 (@dsbxtw9991) June 30, 2022
The position was attacked by the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet at the start of the war, with an exchange between the Moskva and Ukrainian border guards becoming a point of pride for Ukraine.
The Moskva would later be sunk by anti-ship missiles in a major embarrassment for Russia and President Vladimir Putin of Russia.
Ukraine’s acquisition of western advanced missiles has made it harder for the Russian Navy to deploy ships closer to the coast, potentially cutting off Russian personnel on Snake Island from naval support.
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