Russian troops withdraw from Snake Island

A general view of Snake Island, Ukraine, after a reported heavy nighttime bombardment that forced Russian troops to evacuate, in this handout picture obtained June 30. (Ukraine Operational Command South/Reuters)

Russian forces have left Snake Island in the Black Sea, Ukrainian forces said Thursday after conducting what they say was a “successful” operation.

On Monday, Ukraine’s military said it hit a second missile system on the island, as well as several Russian personnel trying to contain them.

In a brief post on Telegram, Operation Command South on Thursday, Ukrainian forces said that “the enemy hastily evacuated the remnants of the garrison in two speedboats and probably left the island.”

Andriy Yermak, head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, said in a Telegram post that the Ukrainian armed forces “conducted a remarkable operation”.

Early Thursday, Ukrainian forces said the results of a night operation were being evaluated but considered a “success” as Russian forces were forced to evacuate by speedboat.

Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Valeriy Zaluzhniy told Telegram that the “occupiers” left after they were “unable to withstand the fire of our artillery, rockets and airstrikes”.

He also thanked the Ukrainian armed forces from the Odessa region “which took the maximum measures to liberate a strategically important part of our territory,” referring to Snake Island.

However, Russia gave a slightly different account of events on the island.

Russian Armed Forces Lieutenant General and Russian Army Spokesman Igor Konashenkov told a briefing that Russian forces had left the island “as a goodwill gesture”.

He added that “The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation have completed the fulfillment of assigned tasks on Snake Island and have withdrawn the garrison operating there.”

Konashenkov indicated that the withdrawal of Russian troops should allow facilitating the passage of grain, “this solution will prevent Kyiv from speculating about an impending food crisis, since it is impossible to export grain due to the complete control of the northwestern part of the Black Sea Russia.”

A satellite image shows an overview of Snake Island, Ukraine, on May 12.
A satellite image shows an overview of Snake Island, Ukraine, on May 12. (Maxar Technologies/Reuters)

Some context: Snake Island is a small but strategic island in the Black Sea. It was the scene of one of the opening salvos of the war in Ukraine, when a Russian warship called for the surrender of Ukrainian defenders, who boldly replied, “Russian warship, fuck yourself.”

This post has been updated.

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