Ukrainian forces say they have pushed Russian forces from Snake Island, a strategic Black Sea landmass off the southern coast near the city of Odesa.
Ukraine’s reported recapture of the island weakens any potential plans Russia may have for a future land attack on that stretch of coastline.
Russia’s ministry of defence stated that it had completed its assigned tasks and was tactically withdrawing to allow for grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
“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,” the defence ministry said.
Ukraine said it had forced Russian troops to flee overnight on two speed boats. The statement, by Ukraine’s southern command, said explosions could still be heard and the island was covered in smoke, appearing to indicate that battles were continuing.
Snake Island was made famous when Russia first captured it in February. A Ukrainian soldier posted on the island told an attacking Russian warship to “go fuck yourself”, which has become one of the most popular Ukrainian slogans of resistance since the invasion.
The Ukrainian postal service issued a stamp showing a Ukrainian soldier giving the finger to the Russian cruiser Moskva.
The blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports by Russia has caused grain prices to soar, threatening famine in several countries.
More details soon …