A satellite image of Snake Island taken on May 6.
Ukraine says its forces have forced Russian troops off Snake Island in the Black Sea, a claim Russia denied, with Moscow saying it withdrew its forces as a "gesture of goodwill" to show the country isn't impeding efforts to allow the export of agricultural products.
"KABOOM! No Russian troops on the Snake Island anymore. Our Armed Forces did a great job," Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's office, wrote on Twitter, along with a a photo showing plumes of smoke rising from several parts of the a small but strategic outpost that was captured by Russia in the early days of its invasion.
The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed its troops had left the island, which it had been using as an outpost to supply anti-ship and antiaircraft missiles as well as radar systems to its forces, saying the withdrawal came after soldiers stationed there had carried out all of the duties they were tasked with. Control of Snake Island, located about 40 kilometers from Ukraine’s coast, had enabled Russia to threaten the sea lanes leading to and from Odesa, Ukraine’s main port for shipping grain to the world. The island became a symbol of resistance for Ukraine when border guards stationed on it refused Russian demands to surrender or die. In response, one border guard sent a message to the Russian flagship, the Moskva: "Russian warship, go f*** yourself." The Russian ship then bombed the island. It is not clear how many died in the attack, but the soldier who sent the message survived. The Moskva, the command-and-control ship for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, later sunk after what Kyiv says was a Ukrainian attack.