Ukraine launched overnight strikes on Snake Island in the Black Sea. As a result, Russia evacuated the remnants of the garrison and probably left the island according to a Facebook report by the South operational command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU).
“During the night, as a result of the successful implementation of the next phase of the military operation with missile and artillery strikes on Snake Island, the enemy hastily evacuated the remnants of the garrison by two speedboats and probably left the island. At present, Snake Island is engulfed in flames, and explosions are heard.”
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement quoted by RIA Novosti that the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation have completed the “fulfillment of the assigned tasks on Snake Island” and withdrew the garrison that had been there “as a gesture of goodwill”.
“This demonstrates to the world community that the Russian Federation does not wish to obstruct the UN efforts to organize a humanitarian corridor for the removal of agricultural products from the territory of Ukraine. This decision will not allow Kyiv to speculate on the topic of an impending food crisis, citing the impossibility of exporting grain due to Russia's total control of the northwestern part of the Black Sea. Now it is up to the Ukrainian side, which has not yet demined the coast of the Black Sea near its shores, including the harbor waters.”
A few days before making a “gesture of good will”, Russia acknowledged the importance of maintaining control over the Snake Island as a strategically important site. For example, a member of the State Duma, former commander of the 58th Army and former deputy commander of the troops of the Southern Military District Andrei Gurulev published a text entitled “On the heroism of our soldiers in defending Snake Island.” In it, he described how Russian soldiers delivered equipment to the island and repelled strikes by the AFU. “We need control over this island, it is a strategically important site, so let us cordially thank our heroes,” he wrote.
Besides, on June 22, the deputy chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee, Yuri Shvytkin, in an interview with Lenta.ru, listed the reasons why the island is important. According to him, Snake Island is the main strategic site in the Black Sea. “First, it is situated nearly 35 kilometers off the coast of the Odessa region and just over 100 km from Odessa. Secondly, no ship of any country, I mean Bulgaria, Romania, Poland and so on, can pass Snake Island unnoticed. This sea route is controlled by those forces that are located on the island,” the deputy argued. Alexei Podberezkin, director of the Center for Military and Political Problems, in a commentary for RIA Novosti, also acknowledged the strategic importance of the island for controlling the Black Sea coast of Ukraine and for Russia's likely offensive in the Odessa region.
A day after the start of the war, a video surfaced online of Snake Island being seized by the Russian military. After threats of shelling, the Russian side demanded that the border guards, who were defending it, surrender: “I am a Russian ship, I suggest that you lay down your arms,” came a voice from a loudspeaker. “Russian warship, go f*ck yourself!” was the answer. Ukraine officially acknowledged that the servicemen from Snake Island were alive and in captivity.