Russia have abandoned the Ukrainian Black Sea outpost of Snake Island in a strategic victory for Kyiv against the Kremlin’s blockade.
Ukrainian president Vlodymyr Zelensky’s office announced the major coup after Russia’s defence ministry said it withdrew as a “gesture of goodwill”.
Its supposed gesture was done, according to Reuters, was to prove the Kremlin is not obstructing the United Nations’ bid to create a humanitarian corridor and allow grain into southern port cities.
This comes after renewed international pressure from Nato allies of Ukraine, who committed huge new troop and military funding figures to support Kyiv against the Kremlin’s assault.
Andriy Yermak, Zelensky’s chief of staff, made the announcement with a tweet, including an image of the island with pillars of smoke billowing from it.
He wrote: “KABOOM!”
“No Russian troops on the Snake Island anymore. Our Armed Forces did a great job. More kaboom news to follow. All will be Ukraine”
Ukrainian sources reportedly drove out Russian forced after a huge artillery assault overnight, with its southern military command posting on social media: “The enemy hurriedly evacuated the remains of the garrison with two speed boats and probably left the island. Currently, Snake island is consumed by fire, explosions are bursting.”
An image of the island with pillars of smoke was also shared.
Snake Island, located in the Black Sea near Odessa, is strategically important for Russia during its war. The Kremlin has blockaded southern ports to prevent commodities like grain and fuel being exported, in a bid to put pressure on the Ukrainian economy. It has also tried to stop food being imported, which is causing shortages.
Snake Island’s capture came to the world’s attention when a clip was shared online a few months ago. The Russian cruiser Moskva ordered Ukraine’s guard to surrender, with the soldiers replying: “Go f*** yourselves”.
Rob Lee, a senior fellow at the U.S.-based Foreign Policy Research Institute, tweeted after it was abandoned by Russia: “The most significant aspect is that this could open the door to Ukrainian grain exports from Odesa, which is critical for Ukraine’s economy and for the global food supply.”