Ukraine: 3 Russian ships by Snake Island destroyed with Bayraktar drone - report

Snake Island, also known as Zmiinyi Island, has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance against the Russian invasion.

 A satellite image shows an overview of Snake Island and Russian Ropucha ship, March 13, 2022.  (photo credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS)
A satellite image shows an overview of Snake Island and Russian Ropucha ship, March 13, 2022.
(photo credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS)

Russian and Ukrainian forces clashed once again around Snake Island in the Black Sea on Saturday, with Ukraine claiming drone strikes successfully destroyed a Serna-class landing craft and two Raptor-class patrol boats, as well as damaging a third, according to Ukrainian Operational Southern Command.

The overall casualties from the strike in terms of manpower are estimated by Ukraine to be around 46 people. Also included among the casualties were two Tor surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, according to Ukrainian news outlet Pravda.

These strikes were done by using Bayraktar TB2 drones, the Turkish-made drones that Ukraine has used extensively in the ongoing conflict.

Footage purportedly of the drone strike was shared by Ukraine's Defense Ministry.

Further footage of what appears to be two Ukrainian Su-27 fighter jets targeting Russian facilities on Snake Island was shared online by open-source intelligence Twitter account Ukraine Weapons Tracker, itself a project by arms research accounts Calibre Obscura and Armory Bazaar, and later shared by Pravda.

Snake Island, also known as Zmiinyi Island, is a small island of just around 0.17 square kilometers with a very small population and just a single village.

Numerous historical events have happened on and around the island, such as the Battle of Fidonisi in 1788. It once housed an Axis radio station during World War II when it was under Romanian control.

Today, the island's major function is by playing a role in delimiting the exclusive economic zones of Romania and Ukraine. Indeed, many have called the island essential to Kyiv's maritime claims. However, it had served little in the way of military function.

Then, on February 24, the first day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, two Russian ships, led by the Moskva, began to attack the island. The Moskva had asked the 13 Ukrainian border guards on the island, the only military presence there, to surrender.

However, the soldiers replied with, "Russian warship, go f*** yourself." Subsequently, the ships opened fire. Ultimately, the island was captured and the guards were assumed dead — though they were later confirmed to be alive and taken as prisoners of war before being released.

That moment has become a major rallying cry for Ukraine amid the ongoing invasion, with the country even selling commemorative stamps of the event. 

Clashes have also continued around the island, with one reportedly even resulting in the sinking of the Moskva itself.

On Friday, a Russian frigate, the Admiral Makarov, was reportedly set ablaze near Snake Island after being struck by a Ukrainian-made Neptune missile.

"Snake Island became a symbol of the strong rock of our steadfastness and the defeat of the most persistent efforts of the enemy," the Southern Operational Command said.

Michael Starr contributed to this report.