Snake Island

Snake Island, or Zmiinyi Island, also known as Serpent Island is an island belonging to Ukraine and is located in the Black Sea, near the Danube Delta. It plays an important role in delimiting the territorial waters of Ukraine.

Overview:

  • Bile, a rural settlement, was established in 2007 with the objective of consolidating the island’s status as an inhabited place.
  • From 2004 until 2009, the island was at the center of a boundary dispute between Romania and Ukraine. The International Court of Justice, in 2009, delineated the territorial limits of the continental shelf around Snake Island and gave Romania over 80 percent of the disputed island.
  • Around 100 inhabitants lived on this island, most of them being technical personnel and frontier guards along with their families.
  • The island has been demilitarised and was under development.
  • In accordance with a treaty signed between Ukraine and Romania in 1997, the Ukrainian government withdrew a radio division of the army, destroyed a military radar, and transferred all remaining infrastructure to the civilians.

History of the Island

During the Ottoman Empire, this island was renamed as Fidonisi by the Greeks and from it, the naval battle of Fidonisi was named. The island became part of the Russian Empire in 1829, following the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–1829, and remained so until 1856. After the 1877–1878 Russo-Turkish War, the Ottoman Empire transferred this island along with the Northern Dobruja region to Romania as compensation for Russia’s takeover of Romania’s Southern Bessarabia province.

World War I

A radio station was operated on this island by the Russians as part of the Romanian-Russian alliance, which was destroyed in 1917 when it was bombarded by the Turkish ship Medilli.

World War II

During the Second World War, the island was under Romanian control and an Axis radio station was located on it, making it a target for the Soviet Black Sea Fleet.

In 1944, the Romanian marines stationed on this island were evacuated and the Soviet troops occupied it.

2022 Russian Invasion

On the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine’s first day, two Russian naval warships, Moskva and Vasily Bykov attacked this Island. On the same day, a second attack followed and the Russian force’s invaded and captured the island. Thirteen Ukrainian border guards who were stationed on this island were killed during the battle after they refused to surrender.

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