Ukrainian navy confirms Snake Island soldiers alive, taken by Russia

The Ukrainian navy has demanded the release of all Ukrainian citizens held as POWs by Russia.

 Ukrainian soldiers walk at Kyiv central train station, Ukraine, February 25, 2022 (photo credit: UMIT BEKTAS/REUTERS)
Ukrainian soldiers walk at Kyiv central train station, Ukraine, February 25, 2022
(photo credit: UMIT BEKTAS/REUTERS)

The Ukrainian navy announced on Monday that it was aware that the border guards on Snake Island who were at first thought to have died in a Russian assault were in fact alive and being held prisoner by the Russians.

It was initially reported that 13 Ukrainian soldiers, stationed in the small Black Sea island, were killed by Russian forces after keeping two Russian military ships out of the island for several hours.

The Russian cruiser Moskva and patrol ship Vasily Bykov sent a communication to the Ukrainian state border guards on the island and ordered them to surrender.

In response, as shown in audio shared by the Ukrainian news outlet Ukrayinska Pravda, they replied "go f*** yourself, Russian warship."

The navy added that a civilian ship had gone to the island to help the victims after the attack, but it was captured by the Russians. The navy demanded the release of all Ukrainian citizens.

 Snake Island (illustrative). (credit: Wikimedia Commons) Snake Island (illustrative). (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

At just 0.17 square kilometers in size, the island has a very small population of no more than 100 people.

Numerous historical events have happened on and around the island, such as the Battle of Fidonisi in 1788. It once housed an Axis radio station during World War II when it was under Romanian control. Today, the island's major function is by playing a role in delimiting the exclusive economic zones of Romania and Ukraine. Indeed, many have called the island essential to Kyiv's maritime claims.

Aaron Reich contributed to this report.