The four-month epic around Zmiinyi Island is over — the Black Sea Fleet and the Russian garrison suffered a tangible defeat near the island. How did this happen and why was the Russians’ idea to dig in on the island doomed from the start?
Idiocy and courage: Why Zmiinyi Island was captured
From the very start, the idea of amassing anti-aircraft missile systems and radars on a rock 400 meters across was pure "idiocy and courage." It is simply impossible to seriously dig in there because of the limestone — there is no fresh water, it is impossible to build serious bomb shelters, and establish logistic support.
But the desire to control the Danube Delta, create a base for the inspection of ships on the high seas, strike deep into Ukrainian territory using the Tornado-G MLRS and try to create a UAV base in the region outweighed the operational expediency.
The bet was made on the fact that the Pantsir and Tor-M2 systems could shoot down the Ukrainian Smerch and Tochka, and Soviet artillery couldn't reach there.
And the air direction center, radar field and multi-channel air defense on Zmiinyi could effectively counteract the Bayraktars in the role of strike UAVs and Ukrainian ground attack air force.
70 km from the coast, on self-propelled gas platforms stolen from Ukraine, there were systems of electronic intelligence, electronic warfare, and the Neva radar station.
This is how the Russians got "eyes" to surveil the secure communications activity, the radar actuation, and the aircraft take-off, and they could try to jam the drones.
It was an advanced post set close to Odesa — from which, upon data receipt, Oniks and Kh-22 missiles were launched, jamming signals were made, alert aircraft from the Crimea took off if necessary, and the surface picture was controlled using the Neva radar.
What weapon was used to free Zmiinyi
The Russians lost operationally when there was a missile attack on these platforms that made one one of them, Krym-1, blaze for four days, and the Vasily Bekh supply ship was hit by two unknown anti-ship missiles.
The Western press unambiguously identified them as Harpoons, and our officials are mysteriously silent and smiling, limiting themselves to a post on Twitter by the head of the Regional Military Administration and Reznikov’s brief interview, in which he said that the Danish Harpoons were on alert.
Having lost the possibility of passing missiles to anti-aircraft missile systems and unloading bulky cargo with cranes, the entire supply of the island has fallen upon the boat group. And it takes about 6 hours for this group, when loaded, to get from Olenivka. And then they need to somehow unload under constant fire.
And the garrison got a lot of problems — each banal reloading of the Pantsir systems or the evacuation of the wounded turned into a special operation.
Our combined strikes with MLRS, Tochkas, and barreled 155 mm artillery were constantly increasing, and the Pantsir system cannot shoot down shells. First, the radar was blinded on the island, and then the Pantsir was hit.
In addition, the constant adjustment by the Bayraktars at the camera limit made these strikes extremely painful. And hitting a control station that can work in chain order (avoiding hits in caponiers, giving control to a shiftman from another airfield), with an Oniks-type missile, is very, very difficult.
Rocket assisted projectiles, 155 mm barrels 52 calibers long, and drone "eyes" are working. And when the air defense begins to change position, is suppressed or hit, rocket artillery is engaged.
The outcome is the following: numerous outbreaks of fire on the rock and the statement of Russia’s Ministry of Defense that as a result of a "goodwill gesture" the Russian garrison left Zmiinyi. Probably the same gesture as near Kyiv, at the Pivdennyi Buh (Southern Bug) crossing point, near Chernigov and near the Kharkiv bypass road. Russians like such gestures after they get a beating.
Judging by the fact that they left at night on boats, all the equipment that they brought to the rock was destroyed.
Taken all together, the "minus" list includes:
- tugboat of 1600 tons of displacement;
- landing craft Serna;
- four Raptor boats;
- Mi-8 helicopter;
- Strela systems;
- Tor systems;
- Pantsir systems;
- burning self-propelled platforms.
Plus — dozens of killed and wounded air defense crews, ship crews, EW and ESM (electronic intelligence — Ed. note) operators of the invader.
We also had losses as a result of the first battle for the island — may the memory of the fallen soldiers of the SOF, Defense Intelligence, pilots, and sailors live forever. Due to their steadfastness and sacrifice, the enemy garrison was defeated, and the enemy "eyes" near Odesa were destroyed.
Since the training program for using British minesweepers continues, we obviously have not abandoned the idea of unblocking Odesa and ports on the Danube. The Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation, in addition to attacks on peaceful cities, scored the largest losses since World War II.
Several 155mm SPGs, several Turkish drones, and rocket artillery forced those who threatened to push NATO back to the borders of the 90s of the last century to flee at night, abandoning their equipment.