In case you didn’t know, this war is really all about Snake Island. Legendary resting place of the warrior Achilles, with Paris’ dart still embedded in the tendon of his heel. Whose hidden tomb contains the Magical Spear which (allegedly) confers immortality on he who possesses it. Or at the very least, assures victory in any battle involving just spears. (So. no tanks or machine guns.) The Sacred Tomb is guarded by a wise old Snake named Martie. Who poses three riddles to the unwary traveller.
Fragments of a lost Cretan manuscript contain pieces of the puzzle. The first riddle goes something like: “Why did the turtle cross the road?” The answer is: “Because the chicken was on his lunch break.” (Achilles would have liked that one, because he was fond of racing turtles.) The second riddle is missing, and only the response to the third riddle remains extant, it reads, “Stipulate a can opener.” It’s your job to guess what possible joke might elicit such a punchline. In any case, if you ever have to face this Snake, at least you have a heads-up on the riddles. But the second one is on you, because that page of the manuscript is lost. And, by the way, if you fail to answer all three riddles correctly, then Martie jumps on your back and bites you, and you die very quickly from his venom.
Moving on now to the real world: Here is a piece by Andrei Rezchikov and Darya Volkova. Their job is to try to explain why everybody is so obsessed about this little piece of rock in the Black Sea, just 35 kilometers from the shore of the Odessa Oblast, and 120 km from Odessa city itself.
The most recent attempt by the Ukrainians to re-take the island, which happened on Monday June 20 around 5:00 AM (Moscow time), employed a dozen or so drones, including two Turkish Bayraktors, lots of rockets, and massive artillery. This barrage was then supposed to be followed with a paratrooper landing. But despite this impressive display of hardware, the attempt failed, according to the Russian side. However, analysts beleive that the Ukrainians will keep on trying, again and again. (Because this is their destiny? Or they really really want to find that spear?)
During the attack, the Ukrainians showed some ability to coordinate various pieces of hardware and triangulate more than one geographical point. For example, they covered their attacking drones with S-300 anti-air, stationed in the regions of Tuzly (Odessa Oblast) and Ochakova (Nikolaev Province). Then they blasted Snake Island (aka Bile Island) with Tochka-U ballistic rockets, Hurricanes, and 155-mm M-777 Howitzers, from positions West of Odessa and from an island called Kubansky. In other words, like Scotty in Star Trek, they “be givin’ it everything they have…”
Russian military spokesperson Igor Konashenkov believes that the operation was controlled and coordinated by the American curators. The reason he believes this is because, during the course of the operation the Russians spotted an American Global-Hawk RQ-4 drone hovering overhead. The reporters also repeat the news, which we discussed yesterday, about the American commercial Worldview satellites snapping photos of the area between June 14 and 17th. They were apparently snapping photos of Snake Island and also the nearby offshore gas-drilling platforms, which were also attacked. One of my commenters pointed out that location of these things (islands and offshore drilling platforms) don’t really change, so why bother to snap photos from satellites? The answer would be, maybe to see if more troops have arrived on the island or rig?
Just Your Average Fiasco
In any case, the reporters say that the Ukrainians never got their opportunity, after softening up Snake Island, to land paratroopers there; and that the operation was a total fiasco. According to Konashenkov, the result was another series of Ukrainian losses and destroyed equipment, namely: 13 drones, 4 Tochka-U rockets, and 21 Hurricanes. Not one bomb or shell even made it onto the surface of the island, that’s how powerful the anti-air was. According to the Russians. After seeing their fail, the Ukrainians aborted their plan to land paratroopers onto the island.
More than that: Russians were able to track-back to Ochakov and destroy the boats which the Ukrainians were planning to deploy as part of their invasion force. [So, they were planning to simultaneously land paratroopers while also bringing in some marines on small boats.] And after that, the Russians put icing on the cake by shooting 14 rockets into Odessa and Ochakov, and thus blowing up the HQ of whoever was coordinating this hare-brained operation.
However, it is still too early to pop the champagne corks. Military experts warn that the Ukrainians will not abandon their attempts to take Snake Island. Now that they are bristling with American Harpoon (anti-ship) rockets, they will continue to shoot up any Russian ships who venture too close to the shore. Russians must be very cautious, because those Harpoons are nothing to sneeze at.
In spite of everything, and all the difficulties, Snake Island is still worth protecting. Strategically, the Russians cannot allow the Ukrainians to take it back, and here are the reasons why…
[to be continued]