Feb 25, 2022
By Jane Brown
Ukrainian soldiers who died defending an island in the Black Sea from an air and sea bombardment reportedly told an officer on board a Russian navy warship to “go f**k yourself” when asked to surrender.
There were 13 border guards stationed on Snake Island, a roughly 16-hectare (40-acre) rocky island owned by Ukraine that sits about 186 miles (300km) west of Crimea, when Russian troops bombed the island on Thursday.
All 13 soldiers died after refusing to surrender, Ukrainian officials announced.
In his address after the first day of the invasion of his country, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced he would posthumously award all of the soldiers the Hero of Ukraine award.
“All border guards died heroically but did not give up,” Zelenskiy said.
Audio has emerged that is purported to have captured an exchange between Ukrainian border guards on Snake Island and an approaching Russian navy vessel, in which a Russian officer told the Ukrainian forces on the island to “lay down your weapons”.
“This is a military warship. This is a Russian military warship. I suggest you lay down your weapons and surrender to avoid bloodshed and needless casualties. Otherwise, you will be bombed,” the Russian office was recorded as saying on a naval radio channel.
After a short period of silence in the recording, a Ukrainian officer reportedly responded: “Russian warship, go fuck yourself.”
The audio has been published by multiple media outlets including the Ukrainian online newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda, and was shared on social media by Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian interior ministry.
The Russian navy is reported to have bombarded the island with deck guns before sending soldiers on board to take control, according to Maritime Executive citing local media reports.
Snake Island – known as Zmiinyi Island in Ukrainian – is situated near the Ukrainian and Romanian coasts along the Black Sea, and has previously been the subject of a territorial dispute between the two countries.
A marine research station is situated on the island, and its maritime borders take in an area understood to be strategically important for resources including petroleum.