Video Of Ukraine’s Missile Attack On Russian-Occupied Black Sea Gas Rig Emerges

The video, released Monday morning by the Ukrainian Operational Command South (OCS), shows footage of the launch of what appears to be an anti-ship cruise missile. The missile can be seen flying through the air before supposedly striking the rig.

Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship cruise missile being launched. (Ukrainian Operational Command South video.)
Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship cruise in flight. (Ukrainian Operational Command South video.)

It isn’t clear if Neptune or Harpoon missiles were used in the strike, although they are fairly similar. Ukraine could be using Neptune footage as propaganda as there are other discrepancies in the video, as well. What’s important here is that the FLIR video appears to show a missile with an anti-ship-like attack profile striking the platform.

The rig was first attacked on June 20. Three weeks later, it still appears to be burning.

A July 9 Planet Labs satellite image obtained by The War Zone shows flames and smoke still rising from the rig. NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) showed that the structure was still burning as of Monday morning.

A Russian-occupied Black Sea gas rig, hit by Ukraine forces on June 20, is still burning. PHOTO © 2022 PLANET LABS INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRINTED BY PERMISSION

The gas rig attack was part of Ukraine’s plan to kick the Russians off Snake Island while sending them a message, according to the OCS video. You can watch the whole video here:

“The command post, obstacle and reconnaissance equipment, which the occupying forces had placed on the stolen drilling rigs in the Odesa gas condensate field, were suddenly and accurately hit,” according to a description of the video, released Monday morning. “In addition to the losses themselves, this also made a convincing impression on the enemy about the desperation and true capabilities of the defense forces of southern Ukraine.”
The Chornomorneftegaz drilling rigs are located about 70 kilometers south of Odesa. In a widely-derided deal, Ukraine purchased these natural gas offshore drilling platforms in 2011-2012. The rigs became known as the notorious “Boyko’s Towers,” after the former Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko. The rigs were seized by Russia when it annexed Crimea in 2014.

The OCS video also provides new details about how Ukraine carried out its attacks on Snake Island, which culminated with a Russian evacuation on June 30.

OCS claims the island, about 22 miles off the coast, was used by the Russians as an air defense platform since its capture Feb. 24 to ensure “control over the sea and sky in the area of ​​the northwestern part of the Black Sea.”

Running off the Russians was the result of a two-month effort, according to OCS.

Several elements of the Ukrainian national defense system took part, including different Navy forces, a Bayraktar TB2 drone squadron, the Ukrainian Air Force, missile and artillery units, State Border Service, the Ukraine Security Service (SBU) the Defense Intelligence directorate (GUR) as well as troops from the “Alexandria” strategic operational group.

The operation had several stages. 

The first involved cutting off Russia’s ability to provide logistic support to the island by hitting the pier and supply ships.

OCS claims that the “accurate work” of the Bayraktar drones and the “use of partner armed assistance and domestic technologies” “affected” several Russian ships.

That list includes four Raptor class high-speed patrol boats and a Serna class high-speed amphibious assault boat.

In addition, the Project 11356R Admiral Grigorovich class frigate Admiral Essen was “significantly damaged.”

The Russians, however, showed video after that purported attack in early April claiming the vessel was operating with no issues.

And the Russian Navy rescue vessel Vasiliy Bekh “was transferred to the submarine fleet,” a coy way of saying it was sunk.

Still, the Russians were able to deliver about three dozen pieces of equipment to the island: a Tor-M2 air defense system, four Pantsir-S1 air defense systems, two BM-21 Grad multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS), two Tornado-G MLRS, one BBM armored personnel carrier, three other military vehicles, two diesel generators, and about 18 other items “carefully disguised with a net.”

After the sinking of the Russian Slava-class cruiser Moskva, “which provided cover for the naval group at sea with its anti-aircraft defense,” the Russians “decided to create a stationary cruiser from the island, so to speak.”

The Black Sea gas rigs were hit as part of the planning for the most active stage of the Snake Island attack.

OCS said above image shows the moment before a Ukrainian missile hit one of the Russian-occupied Black Sea gas rigs. (Screenshot from the Ukrainian Operational Command South video.)

Ukraine’s success on Snake Island “was achieved through constant fire, disruption of logistical support between the mainland and the enemy’s garrison on the island, which was carried out by sea, and demoralization of the enemy’s personnel.”

Before leaving the island, the Russians destroyed several pieces of equipment that were not hit by Ukrainian bombardment. That list included three Pantsyr-S1 air defense systems, one Tor-M2 air defense system, one Tornado-G air defense system, one Grad multiple launch rocket system, two BBM armored personnel carriers, a small boat and a warehouse full of ammunition.

OCS estimates the total loss of Russian equipment on Snake Island in excess of $900 million.

But the saga of Snake Island didn’t end with the Russian evacuation.

On July 7, combat swimmers of the 73rd SOF Maritime Center of the Armed Forces of Ukraine approached the island on underwater carriers, according to the Ukraine military.

Ukrainian special operations forces raising their national flag on Snake Island. (Ukrainian General Staff photo.)

“With the help of special equipment, they surveyed the coastal zone for the presence of anti-submarine and anti-landing mines. After establishing a passage for the boats of the main group, they gave the signal to continue the operation.”

Engineers were the first to land. They cleared the passage of mine barriers and traps for the rest of the group.

After reaching the island’s plateau, the group surveyed the area, recording and collecting data on the enemy’s equipment, weapons and material on the island.

During the operation, the combined group installed Ukrainian flags on different parts of the island. They also planted the flag of the 73rd SOF Center of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

While this was happening, Russian vessels headed toward Snake Island. 

Their mission completed, the Ukrainian SOF troops left the island.

Ukraine says they left before a Russian missile hit the pier and that everyone returned safely. Russia claimed they killed several Ukrainian forces during the attack.

Last week, when asked by The War Zone for confirmation of the action on July 7, the Pentagon declined to comment.

Russian video shows damage to Snake Island just before the evacuation. (Russian Ministry of Defense photo.)

Given the vulnerability of the island, though Ukraine SOF visited the rock for a few hours, it is unlikely either side will be able to have a permanent garrison there, at least for now.

As for the gas rig, there is no telling how long it will continue to burn.

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Howard Altman Avatar

Howard Altman

Senior Staff Writer

Howard is a Senior Staff Writer for The War Zone, and a former Senior Managing Editor for Military Times. Prior to this, he covered military affairs for the Tampa Bay Times as a Senior Writer. Howard’s work has appeared in various publications including Yahoo News, RealClearDefense, and Air Force Times.