Ukraine War Day #119: Return To Snake Island

Dear Readers:

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.

“Zounds! I did Na-zi that one coming!”

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.

But Seriously…

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?)

Bottom to top: I marked with red arrows Bile Island (=Snake Island), Tuzly, and Ochakov.

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]

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13 Responses to Ukraine War Day #119: Return To Snake Island

  1. colliemum says:

    Beautiful title, yalensis – for a proper sequel to the Ukrie ‘expeditions’ to Snake Island. I think the Russians have now also taken out the military hardware on Kubansky Island according to an entry in Intel Slava Z.
    To me there’s no doubt that US military is involved, with spy planes and satellites. I wonder how many of their ‘advisers’ are now left ‘on the ground’ to direct Ukrie operations.

    As for that snake and her (snakes are female, ok yah?) riddles: nah, I’m not playing snake games, LOL!


  2. Stephen T Johnson says:

    It does seem like Snake Island is highly strategic, and maybe asymmetrically so – essential for control of the Odessa-and-points-west seaboard, kind of marginal for Crimea and points E of the Dnieper.
    So, the Russian efforts to capture and hold seem like yet more shaping for the future Odessa offensive, the Ukrainian efforts to retake then become one of their more sensible actions, especially compared to the Kharkov circus.
    Anyway, today being June 22, let’s take a thought for the war dead – past, present & future.


    • yalensis says:

      Good thought, let us honor the dead and mourn for them.


    • Bukko Boomeranger says:

      IANAS (I am not a soldier, riff on IANAL as in “lawyers”) but I can’t see why anyone would try to capture the island unless they had dominance of the surrounding region. From the photos I’ve seen (Larry Johnson’s SONAR blog has had some good pix) it’s small and flat. Anyone on the island would be an easy target for artillery, bombs and missiles. How would it be resupplied with weapons, petrol, food and water? Boats carrying that stuff could be blasted, and the Ukies have seen what happens to helicopters trying to reach it. Plus they don’t have much lifting capacity when it comes to provisioning a garrison. Even if the Ukrainians killed all the Russians on the flyspeck (if there are any bothering to stay there in the first place) they’d be stranded. It’s a lot of effort for any short-term gain of being able to pop off a few anti-ship missiles before the shooters get shredded. SO much energy expended for a momentary advantage of improved killing.

      I realise you’re being facetious about the Spear of Destiny, Yalensis, but that WAS an undercurrent in the esoteric parts of the original Nazis’ belief system. My second ex-wife detested the Nazis, which led her to read a lot about them, including stuff like Goring’s mystical delusions re: the Spear. (Unfortunately, reading books about the N’s and sociopaths in general put her head into a bad, depressed place, living out the saying “When you stare at the abyss, the abyss stares back into you.”) Plus, everybody knows that American WW II general Mark Clark grabbed the Spear after he had George Patton assassinated (Patton found it first at Hitler’s Bavarian hideout) and it was stashed at CIA headquarters in Langley, VA to guarantee American world supremacy forever (muah-ha-ha-ha). Unfortunately, it was privatised during the later part of the Reagan regime and the supernatural majesty was securitised in the form of “Domination Bonds” that were sold to various evildoers seeking to rule tranches of the world. It’s hard to rule the ENTIRE world when a villain is contractually limited to a mere percentage of the Spear’s power…


      • yalensis says:

        Ah yes, but they were talking about a different Spear! Not Achilles’ spear, but the spear which pierced Christ’s side. That particular spear is currently located at Montsalvat (aka “Grail Castle”), somewhere in Spain, where it is guarded by the heirs of Parsifal. The Nazis will never get their hands on it, because it is protected by a magical spell…
        Achilles’ spear, on the other hand, it’s still there, somewhere on Snake Island. Being guarded by Martie the Snake, who (as colliemum has informed me) is a female snake!


  3. lou strong says:

    Hi ! I know I’m quite off-topic, but I think it was you who noticed , sometimes ago, that Kadyrov , or maybe his ghost-writer, has a talent with words. I just read on his Telegram channel, thanks to an apparently perfect Russian to English translator, his last assertions about Ukraine’s dire situation and “Foggy Albion ” contribution . I spent the last hour laughing after I read Kadyrov describing BoJo “the implacable enemy of combs “.
    That’s all . Have a nice day.


    • yalensis says:

      Thanks, lou! I suspect that Kadyrov writes his own material, the guy is very sharp.


      • Bukko Boomeranger says:

        He does turn some adroit phrases. Much as I admire your ability to translate Russian to English, Yalensis, a week or so ago you had Kadyrov saying “gaslighting” (one of the latest cliched buzzwords like “world-class” and “state-of-the-art.”) You amended that later to what Kadyrov had actually uttered, “putting noodles on my ears” which is probably a Russian or Chechen colloquialism — much funnier than the hackneyed “gaslight”…


        • yalensis says:

          Yeah, translation is more of an art than a science, and sometimes it doesn’t work. I usually try to translate to “colloquial” American English, hence words like “gaslighting”. Trying to make it sound like the guy is right there, talking to you. In my own milieu, people use the word “gaslighting” all the time, so I didn’t realize it is considered hackneyed by some. That’s okay, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The important thing is to try to convey the proper semantics.


  4. daniel_s says:

    Indian Punchline has a similar analysis:
    “Snake Island epitomises the hopelessness of the Ukraine war. Russia cannot end its operation even after a successful completion of the Battle of Donbass. Kiev is unlikely to sue for peace. Kiev is seriously preparing for a counteroffensive once the heavy weapons arriving from the US are deployed…”


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