The Ukrainian military, on May 7, released the footage of two back-to-back aerial bombings of the Russian-occupied Snake Island located in the western Black Sea, which established that the Ukrainian Air Force is still in the fight.
First, the Ukrainian Bayraktar TB2 drones conducted a missile strike over the Snake Island, hitting a Project 11770 Serna class landing craft and a building on the remote Western Black Sea outpost.
Footage from the drone showcased a missile hitting the landing craft at Snake Island’s boat ramp, which can be seen with a Tor surface-to-air missile (SAM) system on board.
“Enemy units on Snake Island remain without air cover and will be destroyed and burned out like cockroaches or locusts,” said Ukrainian official Anton Gerashchenko.
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) May 7, 2022
Shortly after the drone strike on the Serna class landing craft, there was another footage released by the Ukrainian military showing two Ukrainian Air Force Su-27 Flankers flying very low over the island and dropping bombs on multiple targets in a single pass.
The video was filmed by Ukrainian Bayraktar TB2, showing a shot of the island from the west. Two Su-27s were seen entering from the south, flying lower than the lighthouse on the island’s southern point and dropping infrared countermeasure flares.
#Ukraine: The Ukrainian Air force is still alive- seen here are two Ukrainian Su-27 striking Russian facilities on the famous Snake Island in the Black Sea, in remarkable footage filmed by a TB-2 drone.
As we can observe, there is serious damage. pic.twitter.com/ogN3gOU8uJ
— ?? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) May 7, 2022
The Flankers were seen dropping what appeared to be high-drag bombs on the island’s main complex, buildings just above the pier, and on the eastern point.
There were at least two major secondary explosions, possibly because of the hit on ammunition and/or fuel storage area, on the island’s east end before a larger blast near the island’s center.
This was undoubtedly a daring air raid by the Ukrainian fighters, not only because of the threat from the enemy but also due to their low altitude, as the blast and fragmentation of the bombs could have struck the launching aircraft themselves, experts suggested.
Satellite footage that surfaced later confirmed the fire and serious damage to Snake Island’s buildings and the landing craft at the shoreline, suggesting the strikes occurred within the last day or two.
Wave Of Ukrainian Attacks On Snake Island
The strikes were the latest in the series of Ukrainian attacks on Snake Island using TB2 drones which primarily targeted the Russian air defense systems.
A TB2 had destroyed another Tor missile launcher on the island just a day before these back-to-back aerial attacks. Likewise, the TB2 strikes also targeted the ZU-23-2 gun emplacements and SA-13 Strela-10 infrared SAMs.
Ukraine's Bayraktar TB2 UCAV strike hitting a Russian Tor SAM system on the Zmiinyi Island. pic.twitter.com/FOUIiWWMtg
— Status-6 (@Archer83Able) May 6, 2022
These drone strikes could have been the prelude to the bombing by two Su-27s to destroy the enemy air defense to make it safe for the manned fighters to fly low and drop bombs with pinpoint accuracy.
Reports suggest that the aerial raid by Su-27 was also considered safe due to the sinking of the Russian flagship Moskva cruiser in mid-April, which had the S-300F SAM system on board that could have made such a strike more dangerous if it was nearby.
The Su-27 is an interceptor and an air superiority fighter with secondary ground-attack capabilities. As EurAsian Times had reported earlier, the fleet of Ukrainian Flankers, which is low in number, has mainly been used for air-to-air missions, while Mig-29s have been used for air-to-ground roles.
However, the longer range and payload capacity of the Su-27s must have made them more suitable for an attack on Snake Island. Moreover, they could have defended themselves in the air if the need arose.
A TB2 drone had also reportedly destroyed two Raptor-class patrol boats near Snake Island in early May, using MAM-L lightweight Smart Micro Munition.
Importance Of Snake Island For Ukraine
Russian forces have been stationed on the island since the Russian Navy captured it during the initial days of the invasion in February. Ukrainian troops have launched an intense military campaign to recover the territory as part of the ongoing defense against the Russian attack.
The island is located 35km south of the Ukrainian coast in the Black Sea and about 300 km west of Crimea, the Ukrainian territory that Russia annexed in 2014. It is strategically important because it allows Russia to claim territorial waters stretching 12 nautical miles (22.22 km) out to sea.
Also, it covers crucial shipping channels to the port cities of Odessa, Mykolaiv, and Kherson, thereby cutting off Ukraine from international markets and depriving its economy of trade revenues as the country tries to defend itself.
The island was chosen by President Zelenskyy in August 2021 for a press event amid Russian troops’ build-up on the Black Sea border.
“This island, like the rest of our territory, is Ukrainian land, and we will defend it with all our might,” Zelenskyy had said at the time.
The latest Su-27 attack demonstrates that the Ukrainian Air Force is willing to strike Russian positions with fighter jets despite the presence of powerful missile defense systems.
This prooves Ukraine’s ability to keep its airspace contested more than two months into the war against a numerically and technologically superior enemy such as Russia.