Russia retreats from Snake Island

·2 min read
Russia retreats from Snake Island
Russia retreats from Snake Island

Russia has said their forces have withdrawn from Snake Island in a move that could be pivotal in ending the blockade on Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.

Moscow’s defence ministry said on Thursday its troops left the rocky outcrop as a “gesture of goodwill” to demonstrate that Russia is not impeding the United Nations’ effort to open a humanitarian corridor to export grains out of Ukraine.

But the Operational Command of Ukraine’s armed forces in the south said the remaining Russian forces fled the outpost on a speedboat after a number of missile attacks.

"During the night, as a result of another successful stage of the military operation with fire strikes by our missile and artillery units on the Snake Island, the opponent hurriedly evacuated the remains of the garrison with two speed boats and and probably left the island," it said on Thursday.

"Currently, Snake Island is covered in fire, explosions are bursting. The final results of the operation are being finalised."

Satellite images published shortly after the Ukrainian attack showed smoke billowing into the sky from the small jetty on the north of the island, with another smouldering location further inland.

Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, the commander of Ukraine's armed forces, said Ukrainian-made Bohdana Howitzers were used to pound Russian positions on Snake Island.

Controlling Snake Island is seen as crucial in unlocking the Russian blockade of Ukraine's Black Sea ports.

Millions of tonnes of grains have been left to rot in Odessa with tankers unable to leave the area, sparking fears of a global food crisis.

In a statement, the Russian defence ministry said the withdrawal of its troops was tactical and to allow grain exports.

"In order to organise humanitarian grain corridors as part of the implementation of joint agreements reached with the participation of the UN, the Russian Federation decided to leave its positions on Zmiinyi Island," it said.

Snake Island – also known as Zmiinyi Island – became infamous on the first day of Russia's invasion of Ukraine when a Ukrainian border guard told a Russian warship to "go f--k yourself" rather than surrender.

It was initially reported that the border guards were killed, but they were later released as part of a prisoner swap.

Ever since there has been an almost constant battle for control of the island with the Russians ultimately proving the most successful.