The footage, shared by the English-language Twitter account Ukraine Weapons Tracker jokes that Ukrainian strikes on the island were a “gesture of good will” after the Russian troops left the island.
“In a gesture of good will, the Ukrainian Military destroyed yet more Russian hardware on Snake Island yesterday after it was abandoned; at least one Tornado-G 122mm multiple rocket launcher & 4 trucks with ammunition/fuel were destroyed by a Bayraktar TB-2 drone strike,” the account noted.
The footage, recorded by Ukrainian drones in the region, shows the remaining Russian military hardware completely destroyed by artillery strikes on the island.
Why Is Snake Island Important?
Snake Island, officially known as Zmiinyi Island, is a small island roughly 0.17 square kilometers in size. The island is home to one small village and is recognized as key to Kyiv’s ability to control the southern shoreline on the Black Sea.
Historically, Snake Island has had a military significance, with battles on the island dating back to 1788.
History repeated itself when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his “special military operation” in Ukraine in late February, with fighting over the island beginning on the very first day of the war.
Not only is the island important for soldiers’ morale – giving troops on either side of the battle a sense of accomplishment when taking control of the territory – but it has served as a strategic territory for both sides throughout the conflict.
For the Russians, Snake Island helped them oversee the southern Ukrainian coast.
#Ukraine: In a gesture of good will, the Ukrainian Military destroyed yet more Russian hardware on Snake Island yesterday after it was abandoned; at least one Tornado-G 122mm multiple rocket launcher & 4 trucks with ammunition/fuel were destroyed by a Bayraktar TB-2 drone strike. pic.twitter.com/HAT8HWTxat
— 🇺🇦 Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) July 2, 2022
Blocking Ukrainian ships filled with tens of millions of tons of grain and taking control of the coastal territories to the northwest of Russian-occupied Crimea, the Russian forces have enjoyed control of Snake Island for some time.
Even after the sinking of the Moskva, Russia’s flagship in the Black Sea, invaders maintained control of the island – until late June, when troops abandoned the island altogether.
Why Did Russia Abandon the Strategic Island?
When Russian forces unexpectedly abandoned Snake Island on Thursday, it immediately raised concerns about where those troops will be redeployed. Even though the move suggests that Ukraine could improve its position on its coastline, the decision could also mean that troops are preparing to strengthen their grip over Luhansk Oblast.
In recent days, Russian forces took full control of the city of Severodonetsk and are closing in on the city of Lysychansk, just across the river.
Once the Russians take Lysychansk, they have effectively assumed control over Luhansk Oblast and could move on to Donetsk.
According to the Kremlin, however, the decision to leave Snake Island was a “gesture of goodwill” to show that Moscow is not attempting to obstruct United Nations efforts to establish a humanitarian corridor through the Black Sea. Such a corridor would allow stuck grain in Ukrainian ports to leave, avoiding an inevitable food shortage in Africa.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.