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Ukrainian Navy: Garrison of Snake Island Survived Bombardment

snake island

Published Feb 28, 2022 7:42 PM by The Maritime Executive

Ukraine's navy has announced that the 13-man garrison of Snake Island is alive and well, reversing earlier reports that they had been killed by Russian Navy forces. The outpost's staff gained fame and notoriety for refusing to surrender in the face of naval bombardment. 

On Thursday, shortly after the opening of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian Navy warships Moskva and Vasily Bykov reportedly bombarded Snake Island, then sent Russian soldiers ashore to take control of the facility. Ukraine's State Border Guard Service reported that the aggressors "tried in vain to intimidate Ukrainian defenders on the island with demands to surrender [but] the border guards and [armed forces] bravely held the defense."

Later that day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reported that all 13 personnel on the island had been killed. He promised that they would be posthumously awarded the title of "Hero of Ukraine."

However, the Ukrainian Navy reported Monday that the initial accounts were mistaken. All 13 are alive, and have been taken captive by the Russian Navy. "We are very happy to learn that our brothers are alive and well with them!" the Ukrainian Navy wrote.

Crew of two merchant ships detained

The crew of the two Ukrainian-flagged merchant ships that were captured by the Russian Navy over the weekend have been detained, including one Israeli seafarer, according to YNet. 

Sailor Yuri Shvidky, 51, was working as a crewmember aboard the Ukrainian bulker Princess Nicole when the vessel was seized by Russian forces off Romania over the weekend. The Nicole and another Ukrainian vessel, the Afina, were diverted to waters off Crimea. 

"[Yuri] texted us that he has been detained by the Russian, that he was taken to land, and he has no clue where he is. He hasn't written us since," said his brother, Semion Shvidky, speaking to YNet.

As of Monday night, AIS tracking provided by Pole Star appeared to show that both the Nicole and the Afina have departed Russian-controlled waters off Sebastopol and are now located in Romanian waters off Constanta. Their physical location could not be immediately confirmed.