Ukrainian forces used a Harpoon missile to sink a Russian supply ship heading for Snake Island, a senior defense official told reporters on Friday afternoon.
The sinking of the ship helped Ukrainian forces retake Snake Island, which had been under Russian control since the early days of the invasion. The island, called Zmiinyi Ostriv in Ukraine, was a symbol of Ukrainian resistance after a Ukrainian service member on the island told the Russian warship Moscow for “fuck you”. Ukraine then sank Moscow.
Ukrainian forces claimed to have retook the island on Thursday, CNN reported, although Russia claimed its forces left as a show of good faith. The Russian claims are false, the senior defense official said.
“In fact, the way we see this development is that the Ukrainians have been very successful in exerting significant pressure on the Russians, including using these harpoon missiles that they recently acquired to attack a supply ship, and when you realize how barren and deserted Snake Island is, you understand the importance of resupply,” the defense official said. “So the Ukrainians made it very difficult for the Russians to maintain operations there, made them very vulnerable to Ukrainian strikes.”
Retaking Snake Island can help the Ukrainians better defend Odessa and potentially begin to consider reopening shipping lanes, which would help Ukraine ship its grain.
However, the Russian blockade of the Black Sea continues to be the biggest naval challenge for Ukraine, the official said.
The United States on Friday announced an additional $820 million in aid to Ukraine, with some coming from existing US stockpiles and the rest providing funding for equipment to be built by the defense industry.
The United States will send additional High Mobility Artillery Systems (HIMARS) ammunition as part of the Presidential Withdrawal, meaning the United States will draw from its existing supply.
It will also send two national advanced surface-to-air missile systems, 155mm artillery munitions and four additional counter-artillery radars through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.
The most recent package did not include any maritime elements, although the United States announced that it was sending 18 coastal and river boats, as well as a vehicle-mounted Harpoon launcher as part of past assistance.
Of the 19 boats, six are Metal Shark maritime combat vessels and 10 are 34ft Dauntless Sea Ark patrol boats, according to the Department of Defense.