Russian forces withdraw from Snake Island

A general view of Snake Island, Ukraine, after a reported heavy overnight bombardment that forced Russian troops to stage an evacuation, in this handout image obtained on June 30. (Ukraine Operational Command South/Reuters)

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

On Monday, the Ukrainian military said it hit a second missile system on the island, as well as multiple Russian personnel in their efforts to keep them at bay.

In a short post on Telegram the Operation Command South on Thursday, the Ukrainian Armed 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 Ukraine’s armed forces had “conducted a remarkable operation.”

Early on Thursday Ukrainian Armed Forces said the results of an overnight operation were being assessed, but were viewed as a “success” as Russian forces were forced to evacuate using speedboats.

The Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Valeriy Zaluzhniy, said on Telegram that the “occupiers” had left after being “unable to withstand the fire of our artillery, missile and air strikes.”

He also thanked the Ukrainian Armed Forces from the Odesa region “who took the maximum measures to liberate a strategically important part of our territory,” referring to Snake Island.

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

Lieutenant General of the Russian Armed Forces, and spokesperson of the Russian army, Igor Konashenkov said at a briefing that Russian forces left the island “as a gesture of goodwill.”

He added that “the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation finished fulfilling the assigned tasks in Snake Island and withdrew the garrison that had been operating there.”

Konashenkov intimated that the removal of Russian troops should allow an easing for the passage of grain, “this solution will prevent Kyiv from speculating on an impending grocery crisis citing the inability to export grain due to total control of the northwestern part of the Black Sea by 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, with demands from a Russian warship calling for the Ukrainian defenders to surrender, who boldly replied with “Russian warship go f*** yourself.”

This post has been updated.

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