Ukraine war: Russian forces retreat from Snake Island, defence ministry claims

Russian forces have withdrawn from Snake Island off Ukraine’s coast in the Black Sea as a “gesture of goodwill”, the defense ministry said on Thursday.

The ministry said the move showed Russia is not impeding United Nations efforts to organize a humanitarian corridor to export agricultural products out of Ukraine.

Snake Island, which Russia occupied on the first day of its invasion, achieved worldwide fame when Ukrainian border guards stationed there rejected a Russian warship’s demand for their surrender.

The claim it was a gesture of goodwill was dismissed by Kyiv though. It claimed they were pushed out by Ukrainian forces.

The head of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s office, Andriy Yermak, said on Thursday that Russian forces had withdrawn from the island, a strategic Black Sea outpost.

“KABOOM! No Russian troops on the Snake Island anymore. Our Armed Forces did a great job,” Mr Yermak wrote on Twitter.

Snake Island sits off the coast of the Black Sea and was one of the first areas attacked by Russia


Ukraine’s southern military command wrote on Facebook that following a successful operation involving missile and artillery units, Russian forces had evacuated from Snake Island in two boats.

Snake Island became infamous after a group of Ukrainian soldiers defending the island told a Russian warship “go f**k yourself.” Russian soldiers onboard the vessel told the guards to lay down their weapons or be “bombed”, according to audio clips of the incident picked up by local media and shared online.

Two Ukrainian guards can be heard engaging in a brief exchange, saying, “Should I tell them to go f*** themselves?” – before responding with: “Russian warship, go f*** yourself.”

Ukrainian service member Roman Gribov, who was captured by Russian troops on the Snake Island was awarded a medal for his services


An earlier statement by Ukraine suggested they were then killed by air and sea strikes – which Russia denied, saying the troops surrendered. Ukraine’s interior ministry said the audio recording was authentic. The Ukrainian soldier involved, Roman Hrybov, was awarded the medal in March for his services.

Initial reports said 13 border guards on the island had died after refusing to surrender, with president Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine saying each guard would be posthumously awarded the title Hero of Ukraine. But just days later, Ukraine’s state border guard said that the soldiers were still alive and had been taken captive by Russia.

Mr Hrybov is now home in the city of Cherkasy, and shared a video in which Hrybov is seen receiving a medal for his actions from the local authorities.

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