Special forces of the Main Directorate of Defense Intelligence of Ukraine (GUR) managed to regain control of the oil rigs located in the northwestern part of the Black Sea and near the Crimea. The rigs, colloquially known as Boyko Towers had been occupied and turned into military bases by russia since 2015.
The GUR published a video in which states that the Ukrainian scouts have claimed back the drilling platforms called Petro Hodovanets and Ukraina, as well as Tavrida and Syvash jackup rigs.
Apart from that, they captured a variety of russian equipment during the operation, including unguided aircraft rockets. The Defense Intelligence reminded that russia used the oil drilling rigs also as helipads, kept associated weapons and fuel there.
Another valuable trophy is the Neva-B surveillance radar, designed to detect and track targets above the water surface.
A reminder from a few weeks ago, GUR recalled the episode when its forces traveling on boats repelled an attack of a russian Su-30 in the proximity of one of those rigs. The episode was filmed by a camera drone.
Back then, the russian aircraft failed to hit the boat. In their turn, the Ukrainian scouts fired a portable missile – the Su-30 got damaged and was forced to retreat to the air base.
During the active maneuvering, a member of the special force squad fell overboard, while the boats had to hurry and withdraw. Ultimately, the soldier was found and rescued; he spent over 14 hours in the open sea.
"This operation was kept secret for all this time because if the enemy realized we were so blatantly approaching them, they would try to deter us one way or another," says one of the involved soldiers whose name is not disclosed.
The Ukrainian GUR describes their operation as unique but also risky: the special force teams had to cover long distances while remaining wide open to enemy aviation.
The preliminary reconnaissance was carried out by an unmanned aerial vehicle:
"We flew around everything, inspected the territory, looked at the layout of the platforms themselves, how to approach, how to enter, how many meters are the stairs we'll move [up and down], what are the potential routes where landmines could be planted, etc," the soldier said in the interview.
That means, a Ukrainian UAV was able to stay up in the vicinity despite russia theoretically being able to take it down, and that helped the GUR forces to prepare the plan of action.
The soldier says, the most difficult part of the mission was to moor the boats and get up on the platforms because there was a storm on the sea. Nonetheless, they managed to land and proceed with clearing out the platform.
While the GUR operators were carrying out the tasks, a Su-30 flew by, in just 500 m (0.3 miles). Three or four hours later, an airstrike rocked the Zmiinyi island, liberated by Ukrainian forces in June last year.
That is when the Ukrainian soldiers grabbed the Neva-B radar from the rig and brought it as they retreated. Several days afterward, they came back to the platform to take the rest of the trophies.
"For Ukraine, the operation of returning the drilling platforms had a strategic significance: as a result, russia lost the ability to use the Boyko Towers for military purposes. Deprived of surveillance equipment stationed on these towers, russia loses the capability to fully control the Black Sea waters," the GUR press service sums up.