Russia/Ukraine INTSUM 24FEB22–3; 2220 Eastern/0520 Kyiv
[Originally posted on author’s Facebook page; post is publicly available.]
1.) Zmiinyi Island, or Snake Island, is plot of land 0.066 square miles in size in the Black Sea. It has a very storied and interesting history. The Greeks believed that Poseidon created it for a man named Achilles, who you’ve probably heard of. Various Greek figures, like Ajax the Great and Patroclus, supposedly lived there, and Achilles himself was supposedly buried there. In modern times, a lighthouse was built directly over the ruins of a temple dedicated to the mythological hero. Thirteen members of the Ukrainian State Border Guard were stationed there.
Earlier today, it was shelled by two Russian warships. One of the border guards had a video on social media. Later in the day, one of the two Russian ships radioed those border guards, saying:
“This is a Russian warship. I propose you lay down arms and surrender to avoid bloodshed and unnecessary victims. Otherwise, you’ll be bombarded.”
Those border guards replied: “Russian warship, go fuck yourself.”
They were killed to a man. The island now is in the hands of Russia.
2.) There are widespread social media reports and other chatter about a Ukrainian Su-27 or MiG-29 pilot they’re calling the Ghost of Kyiv. Allegedly, this pilot has shot down six Russian aircraft in the first full day of combat operations in Ukraine. If it’s true, he would be the first ace of this century. I don’t know if it’s true. But I do know that all wars have their heroes and their myths, and sometimes the latter is just as good as the former.
3.) Kyiv is currently under attack. It appears to be cruise missiles, though some have reported aircraft. UA air defenses look to be rather active. One video looks to show the interception of a Russian aircraft by a surface to air missile. A few buildings are on fire, one of which seems to be the result of a downed Russian aircraft. Can you imagine looking out your window in the middle of the night and seeing foreign planes being blown out of the sky in a hail of fireworks?
4.) Some details regarding the Russian heliborne assault on Hostomel Airport have emerged. Suffice it to say, it did not go well for the Russians, who lost upwards of seven helicopters, two of which were Ka-52 attack helicopters. Two hundred troops landed at the airport, only to be stymied by the Ukrainian response, which saw a counterattack by the 4th Rapid Response Brigade of the UA National Guard and, along with the 45th Spetznaz Brigade, eventually drove the Russians into the woods. This effort seems to have prevented the Il-76s I remarked on earlier today from being able to drop anything. I think that this will be looked at as a very important moment.
The Ukrainians have a lot of fight in them. I don’t think that the Russians quite expected this.
5.) Russian/Belarusian pincer activity moving south down each side of the Dnieper River toward Kyiv. Perhaps those pontoon bridge exercises came in handy.
6.) US ISR assets (RQ-4) on station in Black Sea, possibly eyeing the Russian amphibs. Probably a good thing to look at. I’d like to know what they’re doing, but alas.
7.) Before I forget, and before everyone freaks out, there has been some increase in radiation levels in and around Chernobyl. Seems most likely to be the churning of the soil as a result of, you know, big armored vehicles rampaging about. Levels aren’t anything to worry about and there is absolutely no indications of any radiological event. That said, Jen Psaki (WH Press Secretary) said that that there is credible evidence that the Chernobyl staff is being held hostage. So there’s that.
8.) Zelenskyy says he’s staying in Kyiv. That said, a slew of Ukrainian Il-76s departed Lviv, looking to be heading to Poland (NFI). Could be for supplies?
That’s all I’ve got. Thanks for reading.