The Snake Island attacks – Part One

Whilst there is no doubt there have been several attacks on Russian equipment on Snake Island, in the last few days, some dubious video footage has been “leaked” on Twitter showing Russian ships under attack.

These videos do put into question those that do appear to be genuine.

For example, yesterdays – 6/5/22 – “news” that Project 11356M Admiral Grigorovich class FFGH Admiral Makarov was struck by multiple Neptune missiles immediately reminded me of the same claim against Project 22160 Corvette Vasily Bykov at the beginning of March, be it with MLRS weapons rather than the Neptune missiles.

I personally wasn’t convinced about the Makarov attack, and once further ridiculous Tweets materialised using ADSB data from FlightRadar24 (FR24) showing NATO aircraft “monitoring the situation” as proof that “something was going on” – well, I definitely didn’t believe it.

This is just poor “analysis” by people who haven’t got a clue what they’re talking about and should just not bother saying anything. Two examples below.

Unfortunately, the Ukraine war has brought out a substantial number of idiots that are suddenly “experts” in warfare, aircraft tracking, ship tracking and satellite imagery analysis. In reality, they are just plain fools.

And as Ben Kenobi says in Star Wars – “Who’s the more foolish? The fool or the fool that follows him?”

This is the problem with social media. These people have a “show” that they’re experts, and then they get thousands of followers that believe everything they come up with.

Personally, I don’t trust anyone with OSINT in the username.

This idiocy was highlighted when a video appeared, apparently from a TB2, showing Admiral Makarov on fire. This was clearly fake and taken from a video game – later identified as ARMA 3. One account on Twitter was able to recreate pretty much the same “video” in a matter of minutes.

So, whilst evidence of attacks are a good thing to have to assess whether losses have been taken or not – fake videos tend to sway people in the other direction.

Going back a few days, I believed the Project 03160 Raptor fast patrol boat attacks video from the 2nd of May – but the above now has me thinking otherwise. I did find it a little strange that the second Raptor hung around the area for so long, and didn’t really make much attempt to evade a potential strike. This highlights the problems with creating fake videos for propaganda – once one fake video appears, it makes others seem fake too – whether they are not.

Todays video of the Project 11770 Serna class landing craft being attacked at the Snake Island harbour area certainly got my “fake video” senses twitching when I saw it. Mainly because, by sheer coincidence, I’d obtained imagery of Snake Island from Capella Space, collected on the 4th May, and I’d taken a good look at the harbour area to search for any evidence of ship activity there.

Coupled with the potential fake videos from previous “attacks” one can start to see inconsistencies in this video.

One thing – I always say this regarding my analysis work – I can’t always be right. I like to be, and I take my time on it, but errors will creep in every now and again.

So let’s look at what I see in the imagery versus the video and I can lay my cards on the table with my thoughts – and as always, I’m open to any comments.

First of all, one link to the video on Twitter. It is also available on YouTube I believe.

A number things immediately grabbed my attention. It is visible even in the Twitter image above. All those blocks of squares and rectangles. They look like CGI – too perfect. That area gets pummelled by the sea most of the time. Granted, they could be containers just dumped into the sea, but I’m not convinced at this.

Also, the ramp to the sea looks too perfect – very straight lines, no sea lapping over it. The wall that runs along it, into the sea, is new.

Let’s look at some close-ups from the video.

This one above shows yet more blocks east of the ramp, and strange grooves, much like seating areas. No sea lapping over them.

The next two shows the same area from nearly directly above. Note the near perfect lines of the walls, and more importantly, these blocks again. What are they? Not containers. Maybe concrete block sea defences??

The next image gives an overall view of the harbour area. Note the blocks again, and the coastline itself.

Now let’s look at the Capella imagery.

Whilst not perfect – typically the worst part of the imagery is the harbour – the blocks in theory would stand out. There doesn’t appear to be any. The quality is enough to show the jaggedness of the rocks along the coast, but not much else. There does not appear to be a wall out to sea along the ramp – but this is inconclusive in this imagery.

We can move onto some hi-res imagery from Maxar, though I’m afraid to say I have no contract with them and so I have had to use images from elsewhere. Ideally, we could do with someone that does have a Maxar account – or Maxar themselves – to provide us with the high-res imagery.

The first is taken from a CNN article dated 14th March 2022 and states the image was collected on the 13th. I’ve had to zoom in a little for the screen grab.

Not ideal quality, but does it look like there’s been much of an upgrade to the harbour area? It doesn’t look like there has been. It’s hard to determine whether there are any blocks there.

The following image is reportedly from Planet, collected in the last few days, and published by Associated Press – AP. Whilst I couldn’t find a direct link, there’s plenty out there – for instance.

Moreover, searching in the Maxar archive, there has been a collection on 7th May 2022 which shows smoke coming from the building as shown above, just on the left edge. Note also the ship activity to the west of the island.

With these two images nearly aligning, we can conclude that the top image is very recent.

In my view, whilst there are small buildings near the harbour, one of which in the area east of the ramp – there appears to be no large blocks present. The wall into the sea by the ramp does appear to be present, but hard to determine whether it matches that in the video. It is still too hard to conclude from the imagery currently available whether the blocks are there or not.

Ideally now, then, we need that hi-res imagery that Maxar clearly has (note they’ve redacted the archive imagery of the island). Then we can put this one to bed once and for all.

Analysis isn’t just about seeing what is immediately in front of you. It is much, much deeper than that. Below sums it up nicely.

Just because it looks like Snake Island harbour in the video, doesn’t necessarily mean it is. You have to look at more than just the shape and the jetty.

Ironically, one proven event – the sinking of Moskva – is still to produce any video evidence that a missile attack led to its demise.

Say of that, what you want.

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