On Snake Island, Ukraine, border guards take a finally defiant stand against Russian forces

The Ukrainians responded boldly.

“Russian warship,” the response came, “Go on your own.”

The Russians opened fire, killing 13 border guards.


join it

Russia in

2014

Source: Maxar via Google Earth

join it

Russia in

2014

Source: Maxar via Google Earth

join it

Russia 2014

Source: Maxar via Google Earth

News of the latest defiant stance on the Black Sea spread on Thursday, highlighting the grim decisions Ukrainians faced during the biggest attack on a European country since World War II. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said hours later that the island’s defenders would be given the title of “Hero of Ukraine,” the highest honor a Ukrainian leader can bestow.

A copy of the recording has been posted on .’s website Ukrainian news outlet Ukrayinska PravdaA Ukrainian official confirmed her authenticity to the Washington Post. A separate recording, posted on TikTok, shows what appears to be a border guard wearing a helmet and masks on an atoll, also known as Zmiinyi Island, or Snake Island, swearing after being shot. His profile lists him as a 23-year-old from Odessa, a port city on the Black Sea.

Stories of resistance amid the bloodshed came from all over Ukraine. Speaking at a news conference, Zelensky said border guards tried to protect the island for much of Thursday before they were killed. He said at least 137 Ukrainians were killed in less than a day of fighting as operations continued.

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A senior US defense official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to openly discuss operations, admitted hearing about the attack on Snake Island on Friday and described the exchange as “painful and inspiring at the same time.”

“It certainly reflects what we’ve seen in the past 24 hours, which is the willingness of Ukrainians to fight for their country, and to do so with courage,” the official said.

The news of the clash sparked admiration on social media.

“the challenge !!!” Florent Groberg, an Army veteran who received the Medal of Honor for valor in Afghanistan tweeted. These Ukrainian patriots should not be forgotten. Few understand what true courage is…this is #stand with Ukraine”.

“What does he say about Ukraine that they have men and women who will not surrender to an overwhelming force,” Rep. Robin Gallego (D-Ariz), a Marine veteran, said on Twitter. “Ukraine is a country that wants to be independent.”

Gallego echoed the border guard’s recent defiant statement, posting a middle finger emoji.

While the 42-acre island is secluded, it marks the edge of Ukraine’s territorial waters, giving it a strategic role within the Black Sea by connecting a shipping lane with the Ukrainian cities of Odessa, Mykolaiv and Kherson.

Control of the sparsely populated island has changed hands several times over the past century, serving as a military base for radar and other equipment.

After World War I, Romania seized the island. It was taken over by the Soviet Union after World War II, which led to the construction of a lighthouse and a military base, according to History of the conflict Published at Queen’s University in Canada.

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The island became Ukraine’s after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, although Romania continued to feud over ownership. Ultimately, an international court left Ukraine in control of the island and Romania in possession of much of the surrounding waters.

Dalton Bennett and Maria Louisa Bale contributed to this report.

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