Russia's defense ministry said on Thursday that a Russian warplane struck Ukraine's Snake Island in the Black Sea overnight and killed an unspecified number of Ukrainian troops, shortly after Ukrainian troops claimed to have raised their flag over the island.
"At about 5 a.m., several Ukrainian servicemen landed on the island from a motor boat and took pictures with the flag. An aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces immediately launched a strike with high-precision missiles on Snake Island, as a result of which part of the Ukrainian military personnel was destroyed," Russian defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.
Andriy Yermak, the Ukrainian President's chief of staff, posted a video on Telegram on Thursday of three soldiers raising a large Ukrainian flag on the island, from which Russian forces withdrew on June 30 after coming under heavy bombardment from Ukrainian artillery.
At the Russian defense ministry's daily briefing, spokesman Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov said that part of the Ukrainian detachment on the island was "destroyed."
Context from last week
Last Thursday, Russian forces announced they were abandoning Snake Island, which was viewed as a major victory for Ukraine in loosening the grip of Russia's grain export blockade. Russia's defense ministry had described this decision to withdraw as a "gesture of goodwill" that showed Moscow was not obstructing United Nations efforts to open a humanitarian corridor allowing grains to be shipped from Ukraine's ports.
Ukraine, after last week's victory, said they had driven out Russian forces after a massive artillery and assault overnight.
The tiny island is strategically important because of its proximity to the sea lanes to Ukraine's port of Odesa.
Airstrikes in Kramatorsk
Russian forces fired missiles at the centre of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk in an air strike on Thursday, and there were casualties, the city's mayor said.
"Air strike with missiles on central parts of Kramatorsk, there are casualties," Mayor Oleksandr Goncharenko wrote on Facebook, without providing details of the casualties. He urged residents to remain in shelters.