Snake Island kan die uitslag van die oorlog bepaal, skryf PENDLEBURY

Slag vir Snake Island: Dit is die klein rotsagtige buitepos met groot strategiese betekenis waar dapper Oekraïense verdedigers vir 'n Russiese oorlogskip gesê het om 'self te gaan'.… en dit kan die uitslag van die oorlog bepaal, skryf RICHARD PENDLEBURY

Soos twee silwer visse wat oor 'n rif afpyl, 'n paar Sukhoi SU-27 vegbomwerpers - die Oekraïense lugmag se kragtigste gevegsvliegtuie - is in die laaste oomblikke van 'n nagtelike laevlakaanval oor die Swart See.

Gesien deur die nagsigkamera van 'n slenterende Bayraktar-dreun, die vliegtuie bereik 'n klein landmassa, spoeg lokvlae in hul nasleep om Russiese missielstelsels te verwar.

Soos die Sukhois die teikengebied oorsteek, is daar 'n reeks briljante flitse, hul bomme ontplof tussen geboue en langs 'n pier. Sekondêre ontploffings en rookpale, wat blom totdat hulle die hommeltuig se uitsig amper heeltemal verberg, stel voor dat die stralers aansienlike brandstof- of ammunisiewinkels getref het.

Die dramatiese beeldmateriaal, hierdie week verfilm, is 'n bewys dat die totemiese stryd om Snake Island 'n nuwe fase betree.

Hierdie afgeleë uitloper het vroeër vanjaar die eerste keer opslae gemaak as die toneel van 'n nou legendariese daad van Oekraïense uittarting. Nou het die slinger anderpad geswaai - en so volg die Snake Island-verhaal die boog van die narratief van hierdie absurde en bloedige oorlog.

Rook styg oor Snake Island, Oekraïne te midde van Rusland se aanval op die land. Die totemiese stryd om Snake Island betree 'n nuwe fase, skryf Richard Pendlebury

Rook styg oor Snake Island, Oekraïne te midde van Rusland se aanval op die land. Die totemiese stryd om Snake Island betree 'n nuwe fase, skryf Richard Pendlebury

Volgens grootte en natuurlike hulpbronne aan land, dit is 'n onwaarskynlike prys om oor baklei te word, weinig meer as 'n rots so groot as 20 sokkervelde.

Dit styg - skaars - uit die Swart See, 30 myl van die Oekraïense kus af, naby die mond van die Donaurivier. Maar die strategiese - en nou propaganda - belangrikheid is aansienlik.

In 2018 Ek het die hoofkwartier van die Russiese Swartsee-vloot in Sewastopol besoek, die groot vloothawe in die besette Krim. Ek onthou hoe ek in die straat verbygegaan het by 'n Russiese jeugdige wat 'n T-hemp gedra het wat wys hoe Poetin sy neus in die VSA blaas. vlag.

Tog is ek herhaaldelik deur dienende en veteraan-vlootoffisiere wat ek daar ontmoet het gesê dat 'ons nie 'n oorlog met die Weste wil hê nie'.

Maar president Poetin het nou net so 'n oorlog aangehits, deur gevolmagtigde. En, na aanvanklike, maklike oorwinnings, dit is die Swartsee-vloot wat die koue gekry het.

Verslaan en geteister deur die Oekraïners, die vloot het gesien hoe sy vlagskip en verskeie ander vaartuie gesink of beskadig is met geen vooruitsig op versterking sedert Turkye die Bosporus-straat - die waterweg wat die Swart See met die Marmara See verbind en uiteindelik met die Middellandse See verbind - vir alle oorlogskepe aan die einde van Februarie gesluit het..

Snake Island - 185 myl wes van Sevastopol — is die smeltkroes van hierdie konflik; 'n aambeeld van 46 hektaar waarop Oekraïne se lug- en missielmagte tans probeer om Russiese militêre mag in die noordweste van die Swart See te breek.

Baie is op die spel. As alles volgens Russiese plan verloop het, die eiland sou 'n ondeurdringbare stasie wees vir offensiewe operasies teen die streek rondom Odessa - Oekraïne se grootste en enigste groot hawe wat nie geval het nie.

As gesofistikeerde radar- en missielplatforms op die eiland gevestig word, sou hulle die lug oorheers, land en see vir honderde kilometers.

Die eiland se veilige besit sal ook enige Russiese uitbreiding van die landoorlog na Moldawië of die Kremlin-geallieerde wegbreekstaat Transnistrië help.

Dan is daar die kwessie van globale graanvoorrade. Snake Island is geleë op die skeepsbaan wat Odessa met die wêreld verbind.

Oekraïne was die vierde grootste uitvoerder van koring in die wêreld, en die grootste uitvoerder van sonneblomolie, baie daarvan het deur Odessa gegaan. Nou is daardie roete geblokkeer.

Slang - genoem Zmiinyi in Oekraïens - eiland is al millennia beset en betwis. In antieke tye het 'n tempel vir Achilles gestaan ​​op die plek waar daar vandag nog is wat oor is van 'n moderne vuurtoring.

In die laaste twee eeue is dit deur die Ottomaanse Ryk beheer, Roemenië en die Sowjetunie. In 1991 die eiland het onder die soewereiniteit van Oekraïne gekom.

Twintig jaar gelede, tydens 'n territoriale dispuut met Roemenië, Oekraïne het 'n klein nedersetting gebou, genaamd Bile, op die rots, om ’n afsondering van die Staatsgrenswag en hul gesinne te huisves.

'n Navorsingstasie is gedurende 'n deel van die jaar daar beman. Andersins, die heuwel omring deur see, in die duisternis gekwyn - tot op een belangrike dag.

Februarie 24, 6pm

Die trots van die Swart See-vloot, sy vlagskip die Moskva, tydens die eerste dag van Rusland se inval in die Oekraïne in die buiteland aangekom. Die legende van Snake Island was op die punt om tot stand te kom.

'n Begeleide missielkruiser, weeg 11,500 ton en met 'n bemanning van meer as 500, die Moskva was die magtigste oorlogskip in die Swart See. Dit is vergesel deur die Vasily Bykov, 'n patrollieskip van 1 700 ton.

'n Klanksnit - wat viraal geword het - het 'n radiogesprek onthul waarin 'n Russiese vlootoffisier die grenswagte op Snake Island gesê het om 'jou wapens onmiddellik neer te lê om bloedvergieting en ongeregverdigde sterftes te vermy . . . anders sal jy gebombardeer word'.

In die clip, die wagte kon gehoor word wat onder mekaar praat en saamstem 'dit is dit'.

Toe gee een van hul nommers - later geïdentifiseer as die 32-jarige Roman Hrybov - hul definitiewe antwoord oor die radioskakel: [object Window], gaan f*** jouself'.

Dit het 'n slagwoord op elke Oekraïense frontlinie geword. Hul verwerping van oorgawevoorwaardes sou ook in 'n Oekraïense posseël verewig word, wat 'n grenswag uitbeeld wat die Moskva die middelvinger gee.

Die Russiese skepe het op die eiland losgebrand - 'n oomblik regstreeks gestroom deur nog een van die grenswagte. Kommunikasie tussen die verdedigers en die vasteland het verlore gegaan. Teen 22:00 was Snake Island in Russiese hande.

Maar die propaganda-stryd het nou eers begin.

Daai aand, Oekraïne se president Zelensky het aan sy nasie gesê dat alles 13 grenswagte gebaseer op Snake Island is vermoor. Hulle sou bekroon word, postuum, die land se hoogste eer, 'Held van Oekraïne,' hy het gesê.

Februarie 25

Die Kremlin het Zelensky se rekening betwis. Niemand is doodgemaak nie – om die waarheid te sê, 82 Oekraïense dienspligtiges op die eiland het 'hul wapens neergelê en vrywillig oorgegee', hulle het gesê.

Hulle is as gevangenes na Sevastopol geneem en sou gevra word om 'n ooreenkoms te onderteken om nie verder aan die konflik deel te neem nie, om hul vrylatings te verseker. Op hierdie stadium, die Russe was vol vertroue dat die oorlog oor dae sou verby wees.

Film van die vermeende gevangenes is op Russiese TV vertoon. The Ukrainian authorities said the footage was fake and the POWs were in fact played by Russian actors. Dieselfde dag, according to the Russian authorities, a squadron of 16 Ukrainian navy boats attacked Russian vessels off Snake Island, in an attempt to retake it. Six of the Ukrainian boats were sunk, Rusland gesê, the rest driven off.

The Russian government accused the U.S. of providing intelligence support to Ukraine during the action. Washington denied it, but was clearly taking an interest in events around Snake Island.

Februarie 26

More Russian naval successes — or ‘piracy’ as Kyiv described it — followed. The Ukrainians reported that the invaders had seized a civilian search-and-rescue vessel, the tug Sapfir, that had been sent with two priests aboard the previous day on a ‘humanitarian’ mission to recover survivors of the attack.

Kyiv’s narrative about what had happened to the border guards on Snake Island also changed dramatically. A Facebook post by the Ukrainian navy stated ‘our brothers-in-arms are alive and well’.

A further announcement described how servicemen on the island had ‘twice bravely repulsed the attacks of the Russian occupiers’ but could not continue fighting as they had run out of ammunition. The Russians had ‘completely destroyed the island’s infrastructure’, including the lighthouse.

For the next month and a half, the attention of the world became focused on the land war, particularly Russia’s failure to capture the capital Kyiv. But Ukraine remained anxious to break Russia’s maritime stranglehold — and score further propaganda victories in its David vs Goliath battle.

Maart 9

Ukraine announced that a Russian patrol ship had been lured inshore by a ‘special operation’ and sunk by artillery fire. Video images released on social media showed a burning vessel, purportedly the Vasily Bykov.

Ten days later another image, this time released on Russian social media, showed a boat identical to the Vasily Bykov, entering Sevastopol harbour, apparently undamaged.

Neither suggestion can be verified. But there is no dispute about what happened a few weeks later to the ship that had led the Snake Island invasion operation.

Roman Gribov - also spelled Hrybov - Ukrainian service member Roman Gribov, who was captured by Russian troops on Snake Island on February 24 and recently swapped for Russian POWs, receives an award from the head of Cherkasy Regional Military Administration Ihor Taburets in Cherkasy

Roman Gribovalso spelled HrybovUkrainian service member Roman Gribov, who was captured by Russian troops on Snake Island on February 24 and recently swapped for Russian POWs, receives an award from the head of Cherkasy Regional Military Administration Ihor Taburets in Cherkasy

Maart 25

Die 13 border guards taken on Snake Island were released by the Russians in a prisoner swap. Roman Hrybov subsequently told a Ukrainian news outlet that he did not regret swearing, though he feared what the Russians would do to him if they found out it was he who had who uttered the now immortal riposte.

Hy het gesê: ‘Since this phrase cheered up our people a little, my mother supported it, although it’s not a very nice phrase. But I’m already an adult, and can speak like that. Die Russe . . . did not know who said this. And that’s good, because I think I would have been treated badly in that case. I wouldn’t have got home.’

April 13/14

In one of the most stunning reverses of a war that was by then already shaping into a fiasco for the Kremlin, the Black Sea Fleet flagship Moskva sank, 60 miles off Odessa. It did so with an undisclosed loss of crew. Possibly hundreds. Moscow claimed the loss was a result of an accidental fire but few outside Russia accept this.

Sources have suggested that a U.S. surveillance aircraft flying over Romanian territory had identified the Moskva’s position and passed on the information.

According to Ukraine’s military, the cruiser was hit by two of its R-360 Neptune anti-ship missiles (op die foto), fired from the mainland. At least one Bayraktar drone might have been used overhead to distract the Moskva’s attention from the sea-skimming sub-sonic missiles.

Whatever the detail, its loss was utterly humiliating for the Russian navy and President Putin.

It also changed the military picture around Snake Island. Russian warships now feared to go too close to the Ukrainian mainland lest they come within Neptune range. That eased the threat of an amphibious landing against Odessa.

The Moskva had also been providing the Russian garrison on Snake Island with anti-aircraft radar and missile cover. That had now been removed and the Ukrainians, on the front foot everywhere, were ready to take advantage.

By capturing Snake Island, the Russians had inherited a problem that had been Ukraine’s. Without powerful anti-aircraft or drone defences, any garrison is a sitting duck on an island with no fresh water and barely a tree or bush for cover. The Russian lines of communication and resupply to Snake Island are also far longer than those previously maintained by Ukraine.

But if Snake Island is to be of use to the Russian war effort, it has to be manned, equipped and regularly resupplied.

In die laaste drie weke, the hard-pressed Ukrainian air force and iconic Bayraktar drones have been taking a heavy toll of the targets that this necessity offers up.

Snake Island has become their shooting gallery.

Moskva of the Russian Navy is pictured smoking in the Black Sea. The Russia flagship was hit by Ukranian missiles

Die trots van die Swart See-vloot, sy vlagskip die Moskva, tydens die eerste dag van Rusland se inval in die Oekraïne in die buiteland aangekom. The legend of Ukrainian resistance conjured up by the defence of snake island was cemented when the warship was pictured smoking in the Black Sea

April 26/30

Ukraine’s campaign of attrition began. Its Air Force Command South claimed strikes against Russian forces on the island that hit a control post, server equipment and three short-range Strela-10 anti-aircraft missile systems. The defences had been reduced.

Mei 2

Attention was turned to the Russian navy. Teen dagbreek, van Snake Island af, two Russian Raptor patrol and landing boats were sunk by a Bayraktar drone. Video footage that went viral showed the boats being struck by guided missiles followed by explosions and fires.

Mei 7

This was the day the Sukhoi SU-27 strike reportedly took place. The aircraft swung around Snake Island and approached from the south, a direction from which they were not expected. Footage of the attack has been watched more than 2 million times on social media. But that was just one of a number of assaults on the island’s facilities during that 24 ure.

The Ukrainians also struck at one of Russia’s major resupply vessels. Social media video footage apparently showed a Russian Serna-class landing craft at dock on Snake Island attempting to unload TOR air-to-surface missile systems when it was hit by yet another Bayraktar drone.

Dieselfde dag, extraordinary footage of the Bayraktar drone destruction of a Russian Mi-8 helicopter landing troops on Snake Island was released. The helicopter suddenly disappears in an enormous fireball as hapless troops scurry beneath.

Russian social media denied the destruction. But the Wagner Russian mercenary group confirmed that a Russian helicopter had indeed had been hit, along with special forces soldiers.

Mei 8

Two further Raptor patrol craft were allegedly targeted and destroyed by Ukrainian drones in the vicinity of the island.

Mei 11

The Russian defence ministry said it had repelled a recent Ukrainian effort to reclaim Snake Island, ahead of Moscow’s May 9 Victory Day parade. It claimed that in the attempt Ukraine had lost 30 hommeltuie, three Su-24 bombers, one Su-27, three armoured amphibious assault boats, ten helicopters and more than 50 troepe. It also claimed that among the dead was the deputy commander of the Ukrainian Navy, Colonel Ihor Bedzai.

Bedzai’s death was first reported by the Ukrainian government on Facebook on Monday. He was in a Mi-14 helicopter shot down by a Russian fighter jet. But the location of his death was undisclosed.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych has said that Ukraine is not trying to recapture the island. It is far easier to continue hitting Russian targets there.

The Ministry of Defence supported this view. 'N Woordvoerder het gesê: ‘Russia’s current efforts to augment its forces on Zmiinyi [Slang] Island offer Ukraine more opportunities to engage Russian troops and attrit materiel.’

Mei 12

Donderdagaand, Ukraine claimed that another Russian naval vessel, the logistics support ship Vsevolod Bobrov, was on fire in the vicinity of the disputed rock.

Snake Island has almost come full circle. Ukraine is turning defeat into victory.