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A Win for Ukraine: Russians Bug Out of Snake Island

by Guy McCardle Jul 1, 2022
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Snake Island as seen by drone. Image courtesy of Фотонак
Snake Island as seen by drone. Image courtesy of Фотонак

Pulling Out

Russian forces have decided to pull out of Snake Island in a small but strategic win for Ukraine. Russia’s Defense Ministry framed the decision to leave as “a gesture of goodwill” and an attempt to open up a humanitarian corridor to export Ukrainian agricultural products. Snake Island, whose proper name is Zmiinyi Island (острів Зміїний), lies about 40 km off the southern coast of Ukraine and holds a critical function in controlling shipping lanes in the Black Sea and overseeing ships going into and out of the port city of Odessa.

There it is, strategically placed under the familiar red marker in the middle of the screen. Image Credit: Google Maps

If you listen to the Russians, they make it sound like they just one day decided to be nice guys and leave the island. The complete statement from the Russian Defense Ministry reads:

“On June 30, as a gesture of goodwill, the Russian Armed Forces completed their assigned tasks on Snake Island and withdrew the garrison stationed there. [We] demonstrated to the world community that the Russian Federation does not interfere with the efforts of the UN to organize a humanitarian corridor for the export of agricultural products from the territory of Ukraine.”

Be Wary of Ivan

Come on. This is the same “Defense” Ministry that launches missile attacks at apartment buildings and shopping malls. Previous “goodwill gestures” were taken in Kyiv and parts of Central Ukraine after Russians fighting in those areas faced fierce defenses and suffered significant losses. For example, after announcing their departure from Zmiinyi Island, the Russians said it was now up to the Ukrainians to clear its ports of mines (a considerable task) and resume grain shipments. They even went the extra mile in promising they won’t prevent the shipping of grain or attack Ukrainian seaports again once they were de-mined. Not surprisingly, Ukrainian officials are wary of that promise.

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