Russian Forces Abandon Snake Island In Ukrainian Victory

The Ukrainian and Russian militaries reported on Thursday that Russian forces previously stationed on Snake Island had been evacuated from the strategic Black Sea outpost.

Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command claimed that Russian forces were evacuated on two speedboats following intense Ukrainian artillery and missile attacks overnight, posting a photograph of columns of smoke rising from the island in daylight on its Facebook page.

In a statement announcing the Russian withdrawal from the island, commander in chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, expressed his thanks to Ukrainian troops around Odessa that had taken “maximum measures” to drive back Russian forces on the island. The general also thanked the designers and manufacturers of the Ukrainian-designed and built Bohdana truck-mounted self-propelled howitzer, saying that it had played an important role in liberating the island. His Facebook page released footage of what appeared to be Bohdana artillery strikes on Russian positions on the island, with fire correction supplied by an Ukrainian TB2 armed drone.

Russian defense ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov claimed that the withdrawal had been made as a “gesture of goodwill”, to prove that Moscow would not obstruct United Nations efforts to secure a humanitarian corridor for the export of Ukrainian grain.

A subsequent statement released by the ministry on its official Telegram channel disputed claims that heavy casualties had forced the evacuation of Russian troops. Instead, the ministry alleged, the lack of cover and positions that could be fortified on the island necessitated the withdrawal of Russian troops to avoid casualties.

Snake Island’s strategic position comes from its position overlooking sea lanes to Odessa, Ukraine’s main Black Sea port. Since the start of its unprovoked invasion four months ago, Russia has engaged in a blockade of Ukrainian shipping in the Black Sea. Western nations have increased their efforts in recent months to lift the blockade, as concerns grow of a global food crisis caused by Russian blockage of food exports from one of the world’s largest grain exporters. Despite the loss of control over the island, Russia’s Black Sea Fleet remains able to intercept food cargoes at sea, for the time being.