The 13 Ukrainian soldiers were reportedly 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 may still be alive, the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service said on Sunday.
A viral act of defiance
In a video that became viral, the soldiers were recorded telling the Russian warship to "go f*** itself" before being bombarded
"The SBGSU and the Armed Forces, like the whole of Ukraine, have received hope that all of Zmiiny's defenders are alive," the Service wrote on its Facebook page, using the island's official name.
Read more on the Russia-Ukraine War:
- Day 4 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine
- Status of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine
- Snake Island soldiers who told Russian ship to 'f*** itself' may still be alive
- Ukrainian army posts directives on how to sabotage the Russian advance
- Did Putin miscalculate the repercussions of invading Ukraine? - analysis
"Russian media reported that Ukrainian servicemen on the island, who were temporarily occupied by Russia in Sevastopol, had been sent to Sevastopol. Preliminary information that border guards may be dead came before the defenders lost contact," the service wrote.
"As previously reported, on February 24, the aggressor fired from naval weapons and used combat aircraft on border guards and soldiers of the Armed Forces on the island of Zmiiny. According to available information at the time, the infrastructure was destroyed and the island captured."
"Prior to that, the enemy repeatedly tried in vain to intimidate Ukrainian defenders with demands to surrender and received only one correct answer - no one will surrender. We understand that Russian propagandists know how to make the necessary information attacks and use them, noting that Ukrainian defenders have surrendered."
"Border guards and fighters of the Armed Forces bravely defended themselves, especially in the face of the overwhelming means of defeat and enemy forces. Work to learn about the fate of Ukrainian defenders continued in all possible directions. Currently, after receiving information about their probable location, the SBGS together with the Armed Forces is working to identify our soldiers, which is common in open networks. We sincerely hope that the boys will return home as soon as possible, and the information received at the time of the attack on the death will not be confirmed. Glory to Ukrainian defenders!!!"
The post concluded with the hashtag #stoprussia.
Where is Snake Island?
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.Aaron Reich contributed to this report.