Ukraine retakes Snake Island from Russian troops: 5 things to know | Explanation news

Stories about Snake Island go back millennia to the mythological Trojan War of the ancient Greeks.

Russian troops have withdrawn from Snake Island in the Black Sea in a move that hailed Ukraine as a victory and Russia said Moscow was not trying to hinder the United Nations’ efforts to organize a corridor for the export of Ukrainian food products.

The Ukrainian army on Thursday claimed it had forced the Russians to flee in two small speedboats after a barrage of Ukrainian artillery and missile strikes.

Snake Island is a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea routes to Odessa, Ukraine’s main Black Sea port, where Russia is blocking food exports from one of the world’s largest grain suppliers.

“The most important aspect is that this could open the door for Ukrainian grain exports from Odessa, which is critical to the Ukrainian economy and global food supply,” said Rob Lee of the United States-based Foreign Policy Research Institute.

The lifting of the blockade of Ukrainian ports was a primary objective of the West.

But several military experts said driving the Russians off Snake Island alone would not be enough to unblock the ports.

Russia could still intercept cargo ships at sea.

Here are five things to know about the island and its strategic importance.

Battle for the Black Sea

  • Snake Island, a rocky outcrop about 35 km (22 miles) off the southwestern tip of Ukraine, is near the Danube Delta and close to the maritime border with Romania, a NATO member.
  • It has strategic value for the control of the northwestern Black Sea, the coastal cities and shipping routes that are part of the global grain supply chain.
  • Russia’s withdrawal from the island could ease the blockade on Ukrainian exports that feed some of the world’s poorest countries.

Achilles and the Trojan War

  • Stories about the island go back millennia to the mythological Trojan War of the ancient Greeks.
  • Snake Island has a long bond with Achilles, the great warrior in Greek myth who is considered invincible except for one vulnerable spot except for his heel.

Ukrainian resistance

  • Covering an area of ​​just 0.17 square kilometers, roughly the size of 20 football fields, Snake Island gained worldwide fame in the early hours of the Russian invasion on February 24 when Ukrainian border guards stationed there answered the demand from a Russian warship for their protection. surrender refused.
  • “Russian warship, destroy yourself,” said a Ukrainian soldier.
  • The refusal to surrender was immortalized on a Ukrainian postage stamp.
  • On the day the stamp was issued, Ukraine sank the same Russian ship, the Moskva, that had demanded the surrender of the island and had been the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet.

Russia’s slipping grip

  • Last month, the United Kingdom’s Department of Defense said that if Russia could consolidate its hold on Snake Island with air defense and coastal defense cruise missiles, it could dominate the northwestern Black Sea.
  • Russia had defended the island since February, but Ukraine increasingly claimed to be causing serious damage, sinking supply ships and destroying Russian fortifications on the island.
  • New weapons sent by the West made the Russian garrison on Snake Island even more vulnerable, especially the US-supplied high mobility artillery missile system (HIMARS) Ukraine began deploying last week.

Dispute with Romania

  • The International Court of Justice drew a new maritime border between Romania and Ukraine in 2009 to settle a dispute over Snake Island over parts of the Black Sea believed to contain significant oil and gas reserves.
  • At the time, Ukraine said Snake Island was inhabited and economically active, home to about 100 people, including military personnel, lighthouse keepers, scientists and their families.