You might remember this tiny island off the coast of Ukraine being captured by the Russians by a warship in the early days of the war when it was defended by only a handful of Ukrainians. That warship, the Moskva was sunk by the Ukrainians and was later commemorated with a stamp.
Source: Associated Press
SLOVIANSK, Ukraine (AP) — Russia on Thursday pulled back its forces from a strategically placed Black Sea island where they have faced relentless Ukrainian attacks, but kept up its push to encircle the last bulwark of Ukraine's resistance in the eastern province of Luhansk.
Russia's Defense Ministry said it withdrew its forces from the Zmiyinyy (Snake) Island off Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odesa in what it described as a “goodwill gesture.” Ukraine's military said the Russians fled the island in two speedboats following a barrage of Ukrainian artillery and missile strikes.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov insisted that the withdrawal was intended to demonstrate that “the Russian Federation wasn't hampering the United Nations' efforts to establish a humanitarian corridor for taking agricultural products from the territory of Ukraine.”
Yeah, sure. Because the Russians are such keen humanitarians. (A reminder that only a few days the Russians attacked a shopping mall with a missile, killing at least eighteen civilians.) And it had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that holding the small island, which is only about 20 miles off the coast of Ukraine and can be shelled from land proved so deadly. Military observers described holding the island as a "suicide mission" as it can be attacked from all directions.
The island came to epitomize the Ukrainian resistance to the Russian invasion, when Ukrainian troops there received a demand from a Russian warship to surrender or face bombardment. “Russian warship,” the answer came back, “go (expletive) yourself.”
The Ukrainian defenders of the island were captured by the Russians but later freed as part of a prisoner exchange.
After the island was taken, the Ukrainian military relentlessly bombarded a small Russian garrison and air defense assets stationed there.