Jun 30, 2022 - World

Russian forces withdraw from strategic Snake Island in the Black Sea

A satellite image of Snake Island in the Black Sea captured by Maxar Technologies after Russia's invasion on March 13. Photo: Maxar Technologies
A satellite image of Snake Island in the Black Sea after Russia's invasion on March 13. Photo: Maxar Technologies

Russian forces have withdrawn from the strategic Snake Island in the Black Sea, Russian and Ukrainian officials said Thursday.

Driving the news: Russian forces had faced relentless attacks as Ukraine sought to retake the island it lost control of in the early days of the war.

  • In February, the Ukrainian soldiers on Snake Island, also known as Zmiyinyy Island, gained worldwide attention after telling a Russian war ship that demanded them to surrender to "Go f**k yourself." Those soldiers were captured by Russian forces but later freed in a prisoner swap.
  • The island is 30 miles off the coast of Ukraine and less than 0.1 square miles in area.

What they're saying: The Russian Defense Ministry said the withdrawal was “a gesture of goodwill" and shows the world that Russia "does not interfere with the efforts of the UN to organize a humanitarian corridor for the export of agricultural products from the territory of Ukraine."

  • Ukraine said the last remaining Russian forces on the island fled after being bombarded with Ukrainian artillery and missile strikes.
  • "KABOOM! No Russian troops on the Snake Island anymore. Our Armed Forces did a great job," tweeted Andriy Yermak, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's chief of staff.

The big picture: Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of exacerbating a global food crisis by blocking Ukrainian grain and other agricultural exports from leaving Black Sea ports — an accusation Russia denies.

  • Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies.
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