The Ukrainians have shown a lot of courage and heart by standing toe-to-toe with one of the largest militaries in the entire world. With the ongoing Russian invasion looming towards Kyiv, amidst all the bullets that have been fired, and all the missiles that have been launched, what Ukraine lacks with the firepower compensates with heart.
Yes, that may seem cliche at times. But if you ask anybody who has served in the military in active warzones, they’ll tell you that if you’re pinned down having exhausted all options—all you have is your gun, your hands, and your heart. And sometimes, that may just be enough to get you out of that life or death situation.
Facing impending death, with no backup and nowhere to run, the 13 Ukrainian border guards stationed on Snake (Zmiinyi) Island served with their hearts and bravery. Defending against a Russian warship on a 40-acre rocky island about 70 nautical miles from Odessa during the onset of the Russian invasion, they quickly realized that they were going to meet their maker very soon. There were said to be two Russian Navy warships named Moskva and Vasily Bykov. It is unknown which one the Ukrainians were speaking to.
In a clip uploaded by Guardian News on their youtube channel, it can be heard that the Ukrainians’ radio suddenly picks up communication from the Russian warship. The Russians aboard said, “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 Russians warned.
The Ukrainian troops stationed on the island paused, with one saying, “This is it,” knowing his end was near, looking death straight in the eyes. He asked another fellow soldier, “Should I tell him to go f**k himself?” to which the other soldier said, “Just in case.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has stated that Ukraine and its people, when attacked, will defend themselves facing the Russians head-on and not with their backs turned. Refusing to surrender, these troops obeyed their commander-in-chief and faced the enemy. With the Ukrainian soldier’s final words, he chose to send a clear message not only to the Russian warship but also to Russia itself. “Russian warship, go f**k yourself,” he said.
After this exchange, the 13 Ukrainian troops stationed on Snake Island were bombed to smithereens, leaving behind a vulgar but powerful message to the invading Russians and perhaps to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has been described by Ukrainians and several parts of the world as the 21st century’s Hitler. The Russian warship reportedly opened fire with deck guns to kill the soldiers.
Zelensky, who was in awe of the Ukrainian troops’ bravery, had stated that all 13 soldiers would be honored posthumously, receiving the ‘Hero of Ukraine’ award. “On our Zmiinyi Island (Snake Island), defending it to the last, all the border guards died heroically. But did not give up. All of them will be posthumously awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine,” he announced.
According to Former Ukrainian Ambassador to Austria Olexander Scherba, the Hero of Ukraine medal is the highest military honor a soldier can obtain from the President during service. Social media went on to make the exchange viral, with millions of people around the world hearing the “Go f**k yourself” to Russia. Director of the Renew Democracy Initiative, Uriel Epshtein, in a reaction on Twitter, wished that he could have a fraction of the bravery of the 13 Ukrainian soldiers.
Currently, Russian forces are quickly advancing to Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv after taking control of Chernobyl and a nearby airport. Numerous Russian assassins have also been said to be hunting down Zelensky and members of his government, with Zelensky being the top target and his family being the second. Despite this, he has reportedly not left Kyiv and will not leave his countrymen during a time of war.
“We are all here. Our soldiers are here. The citizens are here, and we are here. We defend our independence. That’s how it’ll go. Glory to our defenders, both male and female. Glory to Ukraine!” said the President in a video showing himself and his cabinet still in Kyiv.
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