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Zelenskyy honors 500 days of war with a historic visit to Snake Island

Screenshot of a video, President Volodymyr Zelensky filmed on Snake Island, honoring 500 days of full-scale war.
Zelenskyy honors 500 days of war with a historic visit to Snake Island

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to Ukrainians from Zmiinyi (Snake) Island, honoring the 500 days of Russia’s full-scale war on 8 July.

In the video filmed on Zmiinyi (Snake) Island, Zelenskyy promised that “Ukraine will reclaim every part of its territory currently occupied by Russia.”

“I am grateful to everyone who fought here against the occupiers. We commemorated the heroes who gave their lives in this battle – one of the most important during the full-scale war,” he wrote and glorified everyone who fought for security in the Black Sea.

Zelenskyy and other officials – including his Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak and Kyrylo Budanov, the head of military intelligence – laid flowers on the island to commemorate those who gave their lives defending Ukraine during the early days of the full-scale invasion.

Zmiinyi (Snake) Island is located 35 kilometers from the mainland of Odesa Oblast. The strategically important island came under Russian occupation on 24 February as the Russian patrol boat Vasily Bykov and the flagship cruiser Moskva approached the island and offered its Ukrainian garrison of border guards to surrender. The assault party received the now-famous reply from border guard Roman Hrybov, “Russian warship, go f*ck yourself,” which became one of the symbols of Ukrainian resistance.

Occupying Zmiinyi (Snake) Island effectively allowed Russian forces to launch a blockade of Odesa’s Black Sea ports and direct missile attacks against Ukraine until 14 April 2022. On 13 April, Ukrainian troops hit the Russian flagship Moskva with two missiles in the island’s waters. The Russian flagship sank the next day during an attempted rescue operation. The actual Russian casualties of the loss of Moskva are unknown to this day.

On 30 June 2022, the South Command reported that the Ukrainian military had successfully conducted an operation on Zmiinyi (Snake) Island, as a result of which the Russians hastily evacuated the remnants of the garrison with two speedboats and presumably left the island. Five days later, 5 July 2023 the Ukrainian Forces installed a Ukrainian flag on the island.

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