The Snake Island, an area that Russia annexed from Ukraine and later pulled out, could go down in history as the symbol of its resistance against Moscow. However, in a startling revelation, details of the British involvement have emerged in Ukraine’s effort to recapture the islet.
By gaining control of Snake Island early in the invasion, Russia gained an edge that allowed Moscow to control the northwestern Black Sea. It allowed the Russian Navy to bombard Ukraine with cruise missiles.
The tiny island’s proximity to sea lanes near Odesa, Ukraine’s largest Black Sea port, where a Russian blockade had halted grain deliveries, was also a key driver. Therefore, a coordinated artillery and missile assault was launched to drive out the Russians.
While most of this story is already in the public domain, there is more than just the Ukrainian assault that drove the Russians away. The British Special Forces trained the Ukrainian Commandos for their decisive assault on Russian positions at Snake Island, British media, including The Sun, reported.
According to reports, the Royal Navy’s Special Boat Service taught the troops how to operate underwater vehicles. The vehicles, often called sea scooters or diver propulsion devices, are made to carry frogmen from a combat swimmer unit or naval Special Forces over great distances underwater.
Diver Propulsion Vehicles are helpful for long journeys at a constant depth where navigation is easy. It allows the delivery of combat divers and their equipment over distances or at speeds that would be otherwise impracticable.
It has been revealed that the Special Boat Service from Dorset traveled to the conflict-torn Ukraine to instruct the 73rd Naval Special Purpose Center there.
According to a Sunday Mirror report, the 73rd became the sword’s tip and provided the fighting force that landed on the island. “The Ukrainian special forces are as fierce as they come, but they lack our specialized equipment and instruction,” the report said.
According to British media reports, the Ukrainian combat divers surveyed the coastline for explosives with assistance from the British Navy before signaling for the main force to attack the Russian position.
Following that, Ukrainians launched an intense strike by various forces and techniques of destruction as they bombarded enemy positions with rockets, missiles, and drones. And only a few days later, Russia was compelled to retreat under the garb of “a show of goodwill.” It is pertinent to mention that Russia’s loss of control of the northwestern Black Sea had already been flagged by British intelligence on June 21.
The Decisive British Assistance
The United Kingdom has undoubtedly been one of the most ardent supporters of Ukraine, supplying military and non-military aid in billions of dollars. However, the role of its Special Boat Service (SBS), now in the limelight, has proved to be the most decisive for Ukraine yet fatal for the Russians.
The secretive Special Boat Service is an elite British force that originated in the Second World War and is responsible for tackling terrorism or other localized violent acts at sea. The UK’s Ministry of Defense deliberately provides little information about this special force.
SBS operatives are trained to take over ships, tankers, or oil rigs, usually by fast-roping down from helicopters. Military reports estimate that there are just a few hundred SBS members.
Despite being distinct from the more well-known Special Air Service, the SBS is closely allied with it as a member of the UK’s special forces, as previously noted by The Guardian.
Members of the SBS rarely operate on land. Due to their clandestine missions, the SBS and their special forces counterparts have grown in importance. The secrecy makes them appealing to politicians since they can operate in a “grey zone” where the UK might not want to reveal its involvement, such as in Ukraine. The SBS was involved in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as well.
The EurAsian Times could not, however, verify the British media claims. The United Kingdom has also refrained from issuing a statement. That said, if the claims are authentic, the British helped the Ukrainians propel into a battle that was bent in Russia’s favor- both militarily and diplomatically.
The chief of staff to the Ukrainian president, Andriy Yermak, uploaded a video of three troops hoisting a sizable Ukrainian flag on July 7 on Telegram. Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesman for the military government in charge of southern Odessa, also shared several images showing a takeover. Ukraine also claimed that Russia lost military equipment worth $1 billion during the Snake Island battle.
UK’s Got Ukraine’s Back!
The UK has committed £2.3 billion in military assistance to Ukraine thus far, including the recent transfer of M270 multiple launch rocket systems that are even more lethal than the American HIMARS wreaking havoc on Russian assets.
Besides the military assistance in equipment, the UK has also provided training to Ukrainian troops. Earlier, Ukraine’s military was believed to have received training in the Starstreak system in May via remote online learning and possibly by British instructors based in Eastern Europe.
In a more recent development, to aid Ukraine in their conflict against Russia, British forces have started training Ukrainian soldiers under a new program. Up to 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers will be in the UK for several weeks for specialized military instruction.
The UK 🇬🇧 is supporting Ukraine 🇺🇦 as it fights to repel Russia's illegal invasion.
Armed Forces Minister @JSHeappey and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Havrylov this week visited Ukrainian sailors and soldiers training in Britain.
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) July 22, 2022
“We will aid Ukraine in reassembling its forces and stepping up its resistance as they stand up for their nation’s sovereignty and the freedom to determine their future with the help of the British army’s top-notch expertise,” said British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace.
According to a press release, the previous Operation Orbital saw the UK train more than 22,000 Ukrainian personnel from 2015 until the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The new program would train forces outside of the country.
With the war entering its sixth month with no end in the foreseeable future, more such training programs — both overt and covert could be launched inside and outside Ukraine to propel it to a position of military advantage and ultimate victory.