“This is an important development in the war, which loosens the Russian naval yoke,” analyzes a French military source.

“A defeat for Russia, a humiliation, no doubt,” said naval analyst HI Sutton.

This pebble strategically placed a few tens of kilometers from the Ukrainian and Romanian coasts and from the mouth of the Danube, an important European river artery, had been conquered from the first days of the conflict, at the end of the famous episode of the Ukrainian coastguards retorting to the Russian cruiser Moskva – sunk several weeks later – to “fuck off”.

– Exorbitant cost –

“Russia really wanted to keep it, it invested a lot of human resources and expensive equipment,” HI Sutton told AFP, speaking of the anti-aircraft defense systems that Moscow has deployed there since the start of the war.

“The cost of keeping the island was much higher than Russia expected,” Tayfun Ozberk, another naval analyst and former Turkish naval officer, told AFP.

“It consumed equipment, resources”, estimates Igor Delanoë, the deputy director of the Franco-Russian Observatory and specialist in the Russian navy, while the military source highlights “the logistical elongation to supply under Ukrainian fire “.

Because this Russian retreat is above all caused by Western weapons supplied to Ukraine, from Harpoon anti-ship missiles to artillery systems such as Caesar guns and Himars guided rocket launchers. The Ukrainians attempted an assault on this islet at least once but were repulsed. So they bombed relentlessly.

“The arrival of long-range artillery and anti-ship missiles in Ukraine has rendered this island indefensible to the Russians,” said HI Sutton.

“For the NATO powers that supply Ukraine with weapons, Serpents’ Island will come to validate the posture of sending more equipment” to force the Russians to other points of the front, according to Mr. Delanoe , who however considers this a bit “hazardous”.

In the end, this confetti will undoubtedly remain an empty tomb, doubly sealed by Western weapons and Russian missiles, even if the Ukrainians claim the opposite.

“It looks like Serpents’ Island will remain empty until the end of the war, unless Ukraine is equipped with a strong anti-aircraft system,” Tayfun Ozberk said.

Indeed, the same causes producing the same effects, if the Ukrainians ventured to install soldiers and equipment on this rock, they would find themselves under fire from Russia, which retains despite the losses it has recorded the hegemony at sea.

“Russia could inflict exactly the same thing, by different means”, underlines HI Sutton. In this hypothesis, “they will take a rain of missiles”, according to Mr. Delanoe.

In particular, Mr. Ozberk notes that the Ukrainians are not equipped to hit submarines.

But “Russia has four Kilo-class submarines, very stealthy and equipped with Kalibr missiles. If Ukraine puts men on the island, Russia will neutralize them”.

“For the moment, our soldiers have not set foot on the Isle of Serpents, no, but that will come. Believe me,” assured Thursday the number two of the staff Oleksiï Gromov.

For kyiv, “it would be more effective to display a Ukrainian flag on the island” for propaganda purposes, according to Mr. Ozberk.

– Cereals –

A deserted Serpents’ Island remains a breath of fresh air for Odessa and what remains of Ukraine’s coastline. “Russia might be reluctant to launch an amphibious assault,” said retired Turkish Admiral Deniz Kutluk.

As for the issue of grain stuck in Odessa, the impact of abandoning Serpents’ Island is uncertain.

Admittedly, as Ukraine has succeeded in creating a secure bubble along its coasts, it would theoretically be possible to “navigate boats (loaded) with cereals between the coast and the island. But, without Russian agreement, this will remain complicated, because from Odessa to Romanian waters there is a long way during which they will be within range of Russian fire”, notes the military source.

“The Russian blockade does not need the island. Certainly, it facilitates it, but it does not depend on it”, notes HI Sutton.

There remains the hypothesis that with this withdrawal, Moscow is trying to save face by claiming to make a gesture of “goodwill”, which would continue by allowing the export of cereals.

“It’s a gesture that can go in the direction of setting up a cereal corridor”, suggests Mr. Delanoë.

“The Turks are trying to position themselves as intermediaries under the auspices of the UN. This may be a gesture from Moscow for the benefit of Turkey, which will reap diplomatic benefits. cereals”.