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Russian forces have withdrawn from the strategic Snake Island in the Black Sea, Russian and Ukrainian officials said Thursday.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