ArmsEuropeSeaWar

Harpoons Made Russians Leave Snake Island: DoD Official

Ukraine’s sinking of a Russian resupply ship bound for Snake Island last month helped Kyiv regain control over the island, a US Department of Defense official revealed.

Ukrainian forces reportedly sank the Spasatel Vasily Bekh with a Harpoon missile as the vessel attempted to deliver weapons and additional troops to the “barren” island.

“The Ukrainians were very successful at applying significant pressure on the Russians, including by using those Harpoon missiles that they recently acquired to attack a resupply ship, and when you realize how barren and deserted Snake Island is, you understand the importance of resupply,” USNI News quoted a senior DoD official as saying.

“So the Ukrainians made it very hard for the Russians to sustain their operations there, made them very vulnerable to Ukrainian strike.”

Ukraine deployed the Denmark-supplied anti-ship missile in May. It has a reported range of 187 miles (300 kilometers).

Snake Island
An aerial view of Snake Island. Photo: Фотонак/Wikimedia Commons/CC4.0

Contrasting Narratives 

The Ukrainian military announced Thursday that the Russian military left the island it had captured early in the war after being “unable to withstand the fire of our artillery, missile and air strikes.”

However, the Russian Ministry of Defense described the withdrawal as a “goodwill gesture” to allow “the UN to organize a humanitarian corridor” to export Ukrainian grain.

‘Rocket Artillery Assault’

Ukrainian armed forces had been pounding the island 35 kilometers (22 miles) off the Ukrainian coast with “powerful rocket artillery assault” for some time, spokeswoman for the Ukrainian Military Southern Command Natalia HumenyukIt said.

“We can state that a powerful rocket artillery assault that we have been conducting for some time, during the entire military operation, on this small enemy outpost has achieved its goal,” CNN quoted her as saying to Ukrainian broadcaster Espresso TV.

She said the Russians fled in speedboats, setting their anti-air systems and radars on fire “to cover their tracks.”

“As soon as they understood all these systems were being targeted by us effectively and could not serve them anymore, they realized they had to fold their outpost and get out.” 

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