Snake Island Back In Ukrainian Hands, Russia Finally Departs

Almost after four months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the armed forces of Russia finally departed from the Snake Island on Thursday after occupying the strategic Black Sea outpost for months.

Snake Island, a tiny piece of land about 25 miles off Ukraine’s southeastern coast, sits on a major shipping lane and is an important access point to the key port of Odessa.
As per the report by The Washington Post, “the Ukrainian artillery, rockets and airstrikes this month pushed the Russians out of the Snake Island,” wrote Commander in chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, Valery Zaluzhny in a Facebook post.

He also shared a video of missiles hitting the island and claimed a week earlier it had taken out Russian anti-aircraft systems there. However, Russia denied its systems had been destroyed.

“Russian forces tried unsuccessfully to stymie the assault with nighttime fighter jet attacks on the coast of the Odessa region,” the Ukrainian military’s southern command said on Facebook.

As the Ukrainian military operation continued, Russian troops remaining on the island “hurriedly evacuated” the garrison on two speedboats, the statement added.

Taking to Telegram, Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office said “On Snake [Island] there are no more Russians,” stating further that the Ukrainian Armed Forces conducted a wonderful operation and knocked them out, the report said.

He also thanked foreign allies for weapons that aided the fight.

Meanwhile, Thursday’s withdrawal of Russian forces from the Ukrainian island also garnered widespread reactions in Ukraine and around the world.

“Congratulations Ukrainian warriors on your liberation of Snake Island!” Michael McFaul, US ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration, tweeted.

“Ukraine’s expulsion of Russian forces from Snake Island is a significant accomplishment for Kyiv and an important defeat for Russia,” the Russia team lead at the Institute for the Study of War, said in an emailed statement Thursday.

“Ukrainian forces are unlikely to reoccupy Snake Island themselves, but they don’t need to — they needed to get the Russians off it, and they did,” The Washington Post quoted Russia team Mason Clark as saying.

The Russian retreat from Snake Island may prove more significant as a symbolic victory for Ukraine as the action has weakened the blockings of Ukrainian ports.

However, Russia has not lifted its naval blockade and it can still threaten ships sailing to Odessa with its Black Sea fleet and land-based anti-ship weapons systems in Crimea and other parts of southern Ukraine, reported The Washington Post quoting Clark.

Ukraine is regarded as the “breadbasket of Europe” supplying 10 per cent of the world’s wheat, 12-17 per cent of the world’s maize and half of the world’s sunflower oil. Twenty-five million tonnes of corn and wheat – the entire annual consumption of all the least developed countries – can’t be exported and is currently at risk of rotting in Ukrainian silos.

Russia’s actions led to an increase in prices in countries like the UK and the blockade placed 47 million people around the world on the brink of humanitarian crisis as Moscow’s strategy always remained to seize Ukraine’s coastline since the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

On February 24, Russia began a military operation in Ukraine due to which almost 14 million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes, according to United Nations (UN) estimates and most of those displaced are women and children.

The conflict has left 15.7 million Ukrainians stranded and in need of humanitarian support, with some of them lacking access to water and electricity. Three million children inside Ukraine and over 2.2 million children in refugee-hosting countries are now in need of humanitarian assistance.

Almost two out of every three children have been displaced by incessant rocket attacks and fighting between the two nations. (ANI)

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