Snake Island (Black Sea)

Snake Island(Greek: “Fidonisi” –Φιδονήσι), also known asSerpent Island(Romanian: Insula Şerpilor ,Ukrainian:Зміїний,Russian:Змеиный), is an island located in theBlack Sea, near theDanube Delta.

The island is populated. A rural settlement of Bile was established in February 2007.

The islet was part of the border dispute between Romania and Ukraine in 2004-2009, during which the country was divided into three countries. The territorial limits of the continental shelf around Snake Island were delineated by the International Court of Justice in 2009. [1]


Snake Island is an igneous rock formation located 35 km from the coast, east of the mouth of the Danube River . The island’s coordinates are 45 ° 15’18 “N 30 ° 12’15” E . The island is X-shaped, 690 meters from SW to NE by 682 meters from NW to SE, covering an area of ​​0.205 km 2 . The highest area is 41 meters (135 ft) above sea level. The island does not have a prominently featured mountain, but rather a low-slope hill.

Kubanskyi Island on the Ukrainian part of the Danube Delta , located 35 km (22 mi) away between the Bystroe Channel and Skhidnyi Channel. The closest Romanian coastal city, Sulina , is 45 km (28 mi) away. The nearest Ukrainian city is Vylkove , 50 km (31 mi); however, there is also a Ust-Dunaisk port, 44 km (27 mi) away from the island.

For the end of 2011 in Zmiinyi Island, there are two species of fish species (12 of which are included in the Red Book of Ukraine) [2] and six crab species were recorded. A presidential decree of 9 December 1998, Number 1341/98, declared the island and coastal waters as a protected area. The total protected area covers 232 hectares.

The island was one of last hauling-out sites in the basin for critically endangered Mediterranean monk seals until 1950s. [3]

Population and infrastructure

About 100 people live on the island, mostly with their families and technical staff. In 2003, an initiative of the Odessa II Mechnikov National University established the Ostriv Zmiinyi marine research station every year at which scientists conduct research on local fauna, flora, geology, meteorology, atmospheric chemistry, and hydrobiology.

The island is currently demilitarized and under rapid development. In accord with a 1997 Treaty between Romania and Ukraine, the Ukrainian authorities withdrew an army radio division, demolished a military radar , and all other infrastructure to civilians. Eventually the Romania-Ukraine international relations soured (see “Maritime delimitation” section) when Romania tried to assert that the island is no longer a rock in the sea. In February 2007, the Verkhovna Rada approved establishing a rural settlement as part of the Vylkove city which is located at some distance from the mouth of the Danube . However, the island had been continuously clarification needed ] populated even before not officially.

In addition to a helicopter platform, in 2002 pier Was built for ships with up to 8 meter draft draft, and building of a harbor is Underway. The island is supplied with navigation equipment, including a 150-year-old lighthouse . Electric power is provided by a dual solar / diesel power station. The island also has an adequate developed civil infrastructure such as the marine research station, a post office, a bank (branch of the Ukrainian bank “Aval”), the first-aid station, a satellite television provider, a phone network, a cell phone tower, and an Internet link. Most of buildings are located in the middle of the island by a lighthouse or the northeastern peninsula of the island by its pier.

The island lacks a fresh water source. [4] Its border guard contingent is regularly resupplied by air. [5] Since 2009 the development of the island of the world is the result of this problem. [6]


Have Progressed lighthouse technology, in 1860 new lighthouse lamps Were Bought from England, and one of ’em Was installed in the Lighthouse in 1862. In the early 1890s a new kerosene lamp Was installed, with lamp rotating equipment and flat lenses. It improved the visibility to 20 miles (32 km). The lighthouse was destroyed in the First World War (it is not clear which) It was subsequently rebuilt (see paragraph marked “World War I” below)The Snake Island Lighthouse Was built in the autumn of 1842 [7] by the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Empire . The lighthouse is an octahedral -shaped building, 12 meters tall, located at the highest elevation of the island, 40 meters above the sea level. The temple of Achilles is adjacent to a housing building. The remnants of the Greek temple were found in 1823.

The lighthouse was heavily damaged during World War II by the Soviet aviation and German retreating forces. It was restored at the end of 1944 by the Odessa military radio detachment. In 1949 it was further rebuilt and equipped by the Black Sea Fleet . The lighthouse was further upgraded in 1975 and 1984. In 1988 a new radio beacon “KPM-300” was installed with radio signal range of 150 miles (240 km).

In August 2004, the lighthouse was equipped with a radio beacon “Yantar-2M-200”, which provides differential correction signal for global satellite navigation systems GPS and GLONASS.

The lighthouse is listed as UKR 050 by ARLHS, EU-182 by IOTA, and BS-07 by UIA.


The island was named by the Greeks Leucos ( Greek : Λευκός , “White Island”) and was similarly known by Romans as Alba , probably because of the white marble formations that can be found on the island. The uninhabited island Achilleis ( “of Achilles “) Was the major sanctuary of the Achaean hero, where “Their wings seabirds dipped in water to clean sweep the temples”, selon Constantine D. Kyriazis. Several temples of Thracian Apollo can be found here, and there are submerged ruins.

According to a surviving epitome of the lost Trojan War Epic of Arctinus of Miletus , the remains of Achilles and Patroclus were brought to this island by Thetis , to be put in a sanctuary, furnishing the aition , or founding myth of the Hellenic cult of Achilles centred here. Ruins believed to be of a square temple dedicated to Achilles, 30 meters to a side, were discovered by the Naval Capt. NDKritzkii in 1823, but the following construction of a lighthouse on the site obliterated all trace of it. [8] Ovid , who was banished to Tomis, mentions the island, so do Ptolemy and Strabo .[9] The island is Described in Pliny the Elder ‘s Natural History , IV.27.1.

Several ancient inscriptions were found on the island, including a 4th-century BC Olbiopolitan decree which praised someone for defeating and driving out the pirates that lived on the “holy island”.

Modern history

The Greeks during the Ottoman Empire renamed it Fidonisi ( Greek : Φιδονήσι , “Snake Island”) and the island gave its name to the naval Battle of Fidonisi , fought between the Ottoman and Russian fleets in 1788, during the race of the Russo-Turkish War of 1787-1792 .

In 1829, following the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829 , the island became part of the Russian Empire until 1856.

In 1877, following the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 , the Ottoman Empire gave the island and Northern Dobrudzha region to Romania, as a reimbursement for the Russian annexation of Romania’s southern Bessarabia region.

World War I

The Russians had a wireless station on the island which was destroyed on June 25, 1917 when it was bombarded by the Turkish cruiser Medilli (built as SMS Breslau of the German navy) .The lighthouse was also damaged and possibly destroyed. If it was destroyed it was rebuilt. [10]

World War II

The island, under Romanian control during the Second World War, was the location of a radio station used by the Axis forces, which turned into a target for the Black Sea Fleet . [11] The island’s defenses mainly consisted of several 122 mm and 76 mm anti-aircraft guns, captured from the Russians. [12] The Romanian marine platoon was also equipped with two 45mm coastal guns, two 37mm anti-aircraft guns and two anti-aircraft machine guns. [13]

The first naval action took place on June 23, 1941, when the Soviet destroyer leader Kharkov together with the destroyers Bezposhchadny and Smyshlyonyi and several torpedo boats ran to the island, but found no Axis ships. [14]

On July 9, 1941, the Soviet destroyer leader Tashkent together with four other destroyers ( Bodry , Boiky , Bezuprechny and Bezposhchadny ) conducted a tour of the United States, but did not make any contacts. [15]

On September 7, 1941, two Soviet submarines of the Shchuka- class ( Shch-208 and Shch-213 ) and three of the M-class ( M-35 , M-56 and M-62 ) conducted at patrol near the island. [16]

On 29-30 October and 5 November 1942, the Romanian minelayers Admiral Murgescu and Dacia , together with the Romanian destroyers Regina Maria , Regele Ferdinand , the Romanian flotilla leader Mărăşti , the Romanian gunboat Stihi and four German R-boats ugly two mine dams around the island. [17]

On 1 December 1942, while the Soviet cruiser Voroshilov together with the destroyer Soobrazitelny were bombarding the island with forty-six 180 mm and fifty-seven 100 mm shells, the cruiser was damaged by Romanian mines, but she managed to return to Poti for repairs under her own power. During the brief bombing, she struck the radio station, barracks and lighthouse on the island, but failed to inflict significant losses. [18] [19] [20] [21] [22]

On 11 December 1942, the Soviet submarine Shch-212 was sunk by a Romanian minefield near the island along with all of her crew of 44. [23] [24] [25] The Soviet submarine M-31was sunk as well the Romanian mine dams on the island on 17 December, [26] [27] or sunk with depth charges by the Romanian flotilla leader Mărăşeşti on 7 July 1943. [28]

On August 25, 1943, two Romanian motorboats spotted a Soviet submarine and attacked her with depth charges, but she managed to escape. [29]

The campaign finally ended when the Romanian marines were evacuated from the island and occupied by the Soviet Union on August 29-30, 1944. [30] [31]

Postwar history

The Paris Peace Treaties of 1947 entre The Protagonists of World War II ceded Northern Bukovina , the Hertza area , Budjak , and Bessarabia to the USSR order made no mention of the mouths of the Danube and Snake Island.

Until 1948, Snake Island was a part of Romania. On February 4, 1948, during the delimitation of the frontier, Romania and the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union and the Soviet Union signed several treaties on the Danube south of the 1917 Romanian-Russian border. Romania has disputed the validity of this protocol, since it was never ratified by either of the two countries; nevertheless it did not make any claim on the territories.

The same year, in 1948, during the Cold War , a Soviet radar post was built on the island (for both naval and anti-aircraft purposes).

The Soviet Union’s possession of Snake Island was confirmed in the Treaty between the Government of the People’s Republic of Romania and the Government of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics on the Romanian-Soviet State Border Regime, Collaboration and Mutual Assistance on Border Matters, signed in Bucharest on February 27, 1961.

Between 1967 and 1987, the USSR and Romanian side were negotiating the delimitation of the continental shelf. The Romanian side refused to a Russian offer of 4000 km 2 out of 6000 km 2 around the island in 1987.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine inherited control over the island. A number of Romanian parties and organizations should be included in its territory. According to the Romanian side, in the peace treaties of 1918 and 1920 (after World War I ), the coin was considered part of Romania, and it was not mentioned in the 1947 border-changing treaty between Romania and the Soviet Union .

In 1997, Romania and Ukraine signed a treaty in which both states “reaffirm that the existing border between them is inviolable and therefore, they shall refrain, now and in future, from any attempt against the border,” act of, seizure and usurpation of part or all the territory of the Contracting Party “. However, both sides of the border can not be reached within two years, then they can only go to the International Court of Justice to seek a final ruling.

In 2008, twelve Ukrainian border guards died when their helicopter flying from Odessa to Snake Island crashed, killing all but one on board. [5]

Maritime delimitation

Main article: Maritime delimitation between Romania and Ukraine

The status of Snake Island was important for delimitation of continental shelf and exclusive economic zones between the two countries. If Snake Island were recognized as an island, then continental shelf around it should be considered as Ukrainian water. If Snake Island Were not an island, goal rock , [4] Then in according with international law the maritime boundary entre Romania and Ukraine shoulds be drawn without Taking into consideration the isle rental.

On 4 July 2003 the President of Romania Ion Iliescu and the President of Russia Vladimir Putin signed a treaty on friendship and cooperation. The Republic of Moldova, which has been granted to the Union of Soviet Union after World War II , has been granted to Russia as a successor of the Soviet Union in certain forms of responsibility. [32]

On the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in a dispute over the maritime boundary between the two states in the Black Sea. [33]

On February 3, 2009, the ICJ delivered its judgment, which divided the sea area of ​​the Black Sea along the line of each country. The Court has invoked the disproportionality test in adjudicating the dispute, noting that the ICJ, “has its jurisprudence has indicated, it may be decided to should such an approach have a disproportionate effect on the delimitation line under consideration and a previous agreement between Ukraine and Romania, the island “should have no effect on the delimitation in this case, other than that stemming from the role of the 12 -nautical-mile arc of its territorial sea “previously agreed between the parties.

See also

  • Snake Island (Lake Prespa)
  • Bystroye Canal
  • Filfla
  • Maican Island
  • Romania-Ukraine relations
  • Soviet Black Sea Fleet during the Battle of Stalingrad

References and footnotes


  1. Jump up^ International Court of Justice: Maritime Delimitation in the Black Sea (Romania v. Ukraine)
  2. Jump up^ Snigirov S, Goncharov O, Sylantyev S.The fish community in Zmiinyi Island waters: structure and determinants. Marine Biodiversity2012.doi:10.1007 / s12526-012-0109-4
  3. Jump up^ Sergei R. Grinevetsky, Igor S. Zonn, Sergei S. Zhiltsov, Aleksey N. Kosarev, Andrey G. Kostianoy, 2014,The Black Sea Encyclopedia
  4. ^ Jump up to:b Ruxandra Ivan (2012). New Regionalism No Regionalism ?: Emerging Regionalism in the Black Sea Area . Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 167. ISBN  978-1-4094-2213-6 .
  5. ^ Jump up to:b Ukrainian helicopter crash kills 12 , Reuters, March 27, 2008
  6. Jump up^ An appeal of the Odessa Regional Council to the Verkhovna Rada and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on the further development of the infrastructure of the Snake Island and the Bile settlement of the Kiliya Raion of Odessa Oblast. November 9, 2012.
  7. Jump up^ Vitrenko’s Odessa website (in Russian)
  8. Jump up^ Anna S. Rusyaeva, “The temple of Achilles on the island of Leuke in the Black Sea”.
  9. Jump up^ Geography , book II.5.22
  10. Jump up^ “” . . Retrieved 25 June 2017 .
  11. Jump up^ Robert Gardiner,Warship 1991, p. 142
  12. Jump up^ Jipa Rotaru, Ioan Damaschin,Glorie şi dramă: Marina Regală Română, 1940-1945, p. 105 (in Romanian)
  13. Jump up^ Marian Moşneagu,Politica Navala postbelică a României (1944-1958), p. 402 (in Romanian)
  14. Jump up^ Donald A Bertke,World War II Sea War, Vol 4: Germany Sends Russia to the Allies, p. 73
  15. Jump up^ Donald A Bertke,World War II Sea War, Vol 4: Germany Sends Russia to the Allies, p. 134
  16. Jump up^ Donald A Bertke,World War II Sea War, Vol 4: Germany Sends Russia to the Allies, p. 260
  17. Jump up^ Nicolae Koslinski, Raymond Stănescu,Marina Română in al doilea război world: 1942-1944, pp. 53-54 (in Romanian)
  18. Jump up^ Jipa Rotaru, Ioan Damaschin,Gloria and Drama: Marina Regală Română, 1940-1945, Ion Cristoiu Publishing, 2000, pp. 93-94
  19. Jump up^ Timothy C. Dowling,Russia at War: From the Mongol Conquest to Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Beyond, p. 128
  20. Jump up^ Spencer C. Tucker,World War II at Sea: An Encyclopedia,. p. 114
  21. Jump up^ Nicolae Koslinski, Raymond Stănescu,Marina Română in al doilea război world: 1942-1944, p. 56 (in Romanian)
  22. Jump up^ Yakubov, Vladimir; Worth, Richard (2009). The Soviet Light Cruisers of the Kirov Class. In Jordan, John. Warship 2009, p. 92
  23. Jump up^ Donald A Bertke, Gordon Smith, Don Kindell,World War II Sea War, Vol 8: Secured Guadalcanal, p. 77
  24. Jump up^ Shch-212 on
  25. Jump up^ Shch-212 on
  26. Jump up^ Gogin, Ivan. ” ” Series XII “submarines (project 40) (1937-1943)” . Navypedia . Retrieved August 20, 2017 .
  27. Jump up^ Helgason, Guðmundur. “M-31” . . Retrieved August 20, 2017 .
  28. Jump up^ MJ Whitley,Destroyers of World War Two, p. 224
  29. Jump up^ Jipa Rotaru, Ioan Damaschin,Glorie şi dramă: Marina Regală Română, 1940-1945, p. 127 (in Romanian)
  30. Jump up^ Nicolae Koslinski, Raymond Stănescu,Marina Română in al doilea război world: 1944-1945, p. 141 (in Romanian)
  31. Jump up^ Victor Roncea,Axa: Roma Nana the Marea Neagră, p. 209 (in Romanian)
  32. Jump up^ Russia and Romania: history is compromised . BBC Russia. 4 July 2003
  33. Jump up^ “Romania brings a case against Ukraine to the Court in a dispute over the maritime boundary between the two states in the Black Sea” (PDF) . International Court of Justice . September 16, 2004.
  34. Jump up^ “The Court establishes the single maritime boundary delimiting the continental shelf and exclusive economic zones of Romania and Ukraine”(PDF) . International Court of Justice . February 3, 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 5, 2009.

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