Russia Withdraws from Snake Island

It isn’t a giant news, but nothing else really interesting happening at the moment. Allied forces continue to chew the Ukrainian Army, and Ukrainian morale is at the brink of total exhaustion, handing by the thread. Some new cities, towns, villages and factories are captured/liberated, but the trend is exactly the same. So nothing new could be said here.

The only significant news now is the Russian withdrawal from the Snake island. More specifically, it is a response to Alexander Mercouris videos here and here. In those videos, Alexander is asking again what is the immediate military significance of Russia’s hold of this island? What is its significance right now, that Russians were so insistent to hold it, and Ukrainians were so insistent to recapture it, or at least to make Russians withdraw?

I believe the military significance at this stage of war is directly related to Russian plan for landing operation in Odessa province (the southern part of it), as a bigger plan to liberate/capture Odessa, cut of communication lines with NATO to this part of Ukraine, and to link to Russian peacekeeping forces in Transnistria.

The side which will be present on the island when the landing operation will commence, will have significant advantage. If it will be Russian forces, the landing operation will have better chances to succeed, and if it will be Ukrainians, it will have worse chances.

Another major asset that was needed to support the landing operation was the Moskva cruiser. It was sunk. And without its powerful twin 130-mm cannon, powerful search radars and S-300 air-defense system, it would be much harder to support the landing with the ships Russians have right now in the Black Sea.

Snake island can provide some target detection and air defense capabilities. Then “Pantsir” and “Tor” systems there, reportedly, fielded there, they could provide detection of aerial targets for dozens of kilometers, and interception within some dozen kilometers. Visual detection of naval vessels was possible within maybe 10 kilometers or so, provided a team of observers could be positioned at some height above the ground. Some artillery or other means of indirect engagement could also be placed on the island in order to suppress the Ukrainian defenses on the mainland.

Russians managed to lose the cruiser, and they keep the remaining medium-range air-defense capable ships away of that area, it seems, so any logistic operations to re-supply the island can be targeted by Bayraktar drones. In addition, being fixed target, the island can be targeted by guided and unguided rockets and artillery. Especially dangerous are the guided types, for example the GPS-guided Excalibur 155-mm rounds and GMLRS rockets. Even if GPS signal would be jammed, the unguided versions would hit something significant on the island sooner or later. In addition, the induction of anti-ship missiles from the West is also endangering any supply vessels and support ships in this area.

So, Russia has abandoned its plans for the landing operation for now, it seems. Firstly because of the lose of “Moskva” and Snake island, and secondly because Transnistria seems to be safe for now. So no need for haste.

In theory, Russia could very well capture the Odessa without any landing operations. It wouldn’t be ideal, since Ukrainians (including any persons of interest to Russia) will have the opportunity to escape Russians through Romania, and the Ukrainian forces will have the option to be supplied from there as well.

It is entirely possible Russians could retake the island if they will manage to suppress or destroy Ukrainian artillery, rockets and land-based anti-ship missiles in Odessa region. But what can be said for sure is if Ukrainians will try to put their forces on the island, they would be in more danger that Russians ever were there. So if they are smart, they wouldn’t put anyone or anything on the island, leaving it “no man’s land”.

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