Photos show Ukrainian flag over Snake Island after Russia’s retreat

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Photos show Ukrainian flag over Snake Island after Russia’s retreat

The first photos have emerged showing the Ukrainian flag once again flying over the Black Sea outpost of Snake Island. The strate

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The first photos have emerged showing the Ukrainian flag once again flying over the Black Sea outpost of Snake Island.

The strategic island fortress had been taken by Russian forces in the opening hours of the invasion of Ukraine, and subsequently occupied for months.

Russian troops vacated the island last week, following an onslaught of Ukrainian bombardment. The Kremlin spun the retreat as a “gesture of goodwill” in the service of United Nations attempts to open a humanitarian corridor for grain shipments.

Despite its small size — Snake Island is a mere 40 acres of rock off Ukraine’s southwestern coast — the outpost holds strategic value as the tiny island guards the shipping lanes into and out of Odessa.

The Ukrainian military announced Monday that it had retaken the island following Russia’s retreat.

Ukrainian service members install a national flag on Snake (Zmiinyi) Island, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Odesa region, Ukraine, in this handout picture released July 7, 2022.
Ukrainian service members install a national flag on Snake Island, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Odessa region, Ukraine, July 7, 2022.
Press service of the Ukrainian Armed Forces/Handout via REUTERS

In addition to its strategic value, Snake Island plays an important role in Ukrainian morale.

The outpost gained notoriety in the opening hours of the war, as two Russian ships closed in on the island and ordered its Ukrainian defenders to surrender.

In what later became a Ukrainian battle cry, the border guards stationed on Snake Island radioed back, “Russian warship, go f–k yourself.”

Ukrainian service members walk next to destroyed buildings, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, on Snake (Zmiinyi) Island
Ukrainian service members walk next to destroyed buildings on Snake Island.
Press service of the Ukrainian Armed Forces/Handout via REUTERS
Ukrainian service members install a national flag on Snake (Zmiinyi) Island, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Odesa region, Ukraine, in this handout picture released July 7, 2022.
Snake Island gained notoriety in the opening hours of the war, as two Russian ships closed in on the island and ordered its Ukrainian defenders to surrender.
Press service of the Ukrainian Armed Forces/Handout via REUTERS

Russian forces subsequently bombarded and invaded the island, and early reports indicated that the soldiers defending Snake Island had died. The episode became an early symbol of Ukrainian resistance in the face of long odds.

Though the retaking of Snake Island gives Ukraine more control over crucial Black Sea shipping lanes, the victory does not guarantee a resumption of grain shipments out of Ukraine.

US intelligence has reportedly determined that the Russian navy has mined the entrances to many ports still under Ukrainian control, in an effort to cut off the country’s grain exports.

A satellite image shows smoke rising from Snake Island, off the coast of Ukraine, June 29, 2022.
A satellite image shows smoke rising from Snake Island, off the coast of Ukraine, June 29, 2022.
Planet Labs PBC/Handout via REUTERS

Russia also maintains naval superiority over Ukraine in the Black Sea.

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