Victory for Ukraine: Russian forces pull out of Snake Island
Russia said it withdrew from the outcrop as a “gesture of goodwill”
June 30, 2022 4:09pm
Updated: June 30, 2022 5:25pm
Russian forces abandoned their strategic Black Sea outpost at Snake Island on Thursday, signaling a victory for Ukraine and a loosening up of Russia’s blockade.
Russia said it withdrew from the outcrop as a “gesture of goodwill” and avoid disrupting the United Nation’s efforts to open up the trade route that will allow grains to be shipped from Ukraine to hungry regions.
However, Ukraine said it had driven out Russian forces through an artillery and missile assault overnight.
"KABOOM!" tweeted Andriy Yermak, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's chief of staff. "No Russian troops on the Snake Island anymore. Our Armed Forces did a great job."
Ukraine’s military posted an image on Facebook of what appears to be the island seen from the air, surrounded by columns of black smoke.
So… Ukraine says the last Russian units have probably been evacuated from the Snake Island following a series of heavy strikes overnight.— Illia Ponomarenko 🇺🇦 (@IAPonomarenko) June 30, 2022
If confirmed, it’s a serious victory in the Black Sea. pic.twitter.com/VukXqddxey
"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," the post said.
Ukrainian Brigadier General Oleksii Hromov said Ukrainian forces plan to occupy the island soon.
New satellite imagery taken this morning shows smoke coming from the contested Snake Island (45.255721, 30.204173) which Russia announced its withdrawal from today: https://t.co/zeXogu20Bt. 📸 @Maxar pic.twitter.com/OyWc3Shf0n— Benjamin Strick (@BenDoBrown) June 30, 2022
Snake Island is located about 22 miles off of Ukraine’s coast. Russia seized the island on the first day the war broke out on February 24. From the island, the Kremlin is blocking the grain exports from one of the world’s leading suppliers.
Before Russia’s invasion of its neighbor, Ukraine supplied 11% of the world’s grains. The grain supplies were one of the main food sources for the Middle East and Africa, as well as the United Nation’s World Food Program, which provides food to the weld’s population in need.
Ukraine’s main export route was through its Black Sea Ports in Odesa and Mykolaiv. But moving the grain through there, however, would involve sailing past Russia’s Black Sea fleet and a minefield. As a result, many of these regions are undergoing famines.
Moscow, however, denies blocking the ports. Instead, it blames the grain shortages on Western sanctions.
"We do not prevent the export of Ukrainian grain. The Ukrainian military has mined the approaches to their ports; no one prevents them from clearing those mines and we guarantee the safety of shipping grain out of there," Putin said on Thursday.