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Ukrainian military attempt to seize Snake Island has been thwarted, the Russian Ministry of Defense said on Monday.
According to Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov, U.S. and UK advisors were directly involved in planning the operation, personally ordered by said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday.
"Since May 7, at the direct order of Vladimir Zelensky, the Ukrainian General Staff, with the direct participation of advisers from the U.S. and the UK, had plotted a major provocation on seizing Snake Island," Konashenkov said.
The Major General said that the territory is of great importance for securing control over the northwestern part of the Black Sea. Referring to Ukraine's attempt to take Snake Island, he said that "due to professional steps by a unit of Russia’s Armed Forces on the island, the Ukrainian provocation was foiled. The enemy sustained major losses."
Konashenkov said Ukraine lost four aircraft, three Su-24 ground attack aircraft and one Su-27 fighter, and four helicopters, including one Mi-24 and three Mi-8 troop-laden helicopters. Over the two days of fighting, 29 Ukrainian drones were shot down, with a total of eight Bayraktar TB-2 crewless aerial attack vehicles among them, the Russian spokesman said.
During the attempt to land on the strategically important Snake Island, which closes the approaches to Odessa and the generally southwestern part of Ukraine, 3 ���� armored landing ships of class 58181"Centaur" with about 50 saboteurs - members of the special forces were destroyed. pic.twitter.com/X9VlKY8epN
Konashenkov added that Ukrainian losses also included three Centaur-class assault boats that sunk during a nighttime landing attempt on May 8. The Russian military spokesman said that more than 50 Ukrainian soldiers died in the attempted assault on the island, leaving 24 bodies on the shore.
Snake Island, which is located about 48 km off the southern coast of Ukraine, was seized by the Russian Navy during the first week of military operations. Last February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a special military operation in Ukraine following Kiev's non-compliance with the terms of the Minsk Agreements and Moscow's eventual recognition of the sovereignty of the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics.
Russia has since demanded that Ukraine declare itself neutral and never become a U.S.-led NATO military bloc member. Kiev, for its part, has said that the Russian operation was wholly unprovoked and rejected claims that it planned to retake the two republics forcefully.