Snake Island: 13 Ukraine soldiers tell Russia 'go f*** yourself' in defiant last stand

The 13 soldiers were killed after holding out against a Russian naval bombardment on Snake Island, but not before defiantly cursing out the Russian ships.

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

A group of 13 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in a last stand on Snake Island in the Black Sea against Russian forces on Friday after sending a defiant message to the Russian ship: "Go f*** yourself."

The small group held out for hours before ultimately being attacked by the Russian forces.

The battle was part of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Read more on the Ukraine-Russia War:

Where was this?

Snake Island is a small island in the Black Sea, east of the Danube River and south of the city of Odessa.

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.

What happened now?

The island became a target of Russian forces during Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine

On Thursday at around 6 p.m. local time, two Russian military ships, the cruiser Moskva and the patrol ship Vasily Bykov, approached the island.

Moskva sent a communication to the 13 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."

Other footage of the soldiers themselves saying this was shared on social media.

No further communication came from the island, though the border guards said the 13 still on the island were holding the line.

But ultimately, the Russian ships fired.

One of the soldiers actually livestreamed the moment the guns fired, which was later shared over social media and reported on by Newsweek.

According to the Maritime Executive, the two ships bombarded the island with their deck guns before sending troops ashore. 

The 13 soldiers were all killed and the island was under Russian control by 10 p.m. local time.

Russia soon after confirmed that they had successfully taken the island.

The perceived heroic last stand and act of defiance by the soldiers was met with praise by Ukraine's military, as well as by President Volodymyr Zelensky.

"On our [Snake Island], defending it to the last, all the border guards died heroically. But did not give up. All of them will be posthumously awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine," Zelensky said in a statement.

"Eternal memory to those who gave their lives for Ukraine."

Hailed as heroes

The 13 soldiers were not the only Ukrainians to be honored as heroes as the country continues to battle a Russian invasion.

One sailor, identified as Vitaliy Skakun, had gone to place explosive mines on the Henichesky bridge near Crimea to stop an advancing column of Russian tanks.

After mining the bridge, however, Skakun realized he wouldn't make it out in time. He called his comrades and told them, and then blew up the bridge – and himself along with it.

"His heroic act significantly slowed down the push of the enemy, allowing the unit to relocate and organize a defense," the Ukrainian Armed Forces said.