The Ukrainian Navy has confirmed that the garrison of Snake Island in the Black Sea off the coast of Ukraine is alive and was captured by Russian naval forces.

SOFREP was among other media outlets that reported on Ukrainian claims that 13 members of the garrison had been killed after being hailed by a Russian warship that demanded that they lay down their arms and surrender without a fight.

The Ukrainian government provided an audio recording and transcript of the Russian Navy ship cruising close to the island and using a loudspeaker to call out to the island’s defenders on February 24th.

“This is a Russian warship,” according to the transcript by Reuters News. “I propose you lay down your weapons and surrender to avoid bloodshed and unnecessary victims. Otherwise, you will be bombed.”

A member of the garrison replied, “Russian warship, go f— yourself,”

Following this exchange the government of Ukraine lost contact with the garrison and a civilian vessel dispatched to attempt to evacuate them was captured by the Russian navy.  Russian ships and aircraft bombarded Zmiiniy or “Snake” island as promised if the garrison did not surrender. Assuming the worse, the Ukrainian government announced that the garrison had been wiped out and stated that each would be posthumously awarded the title of “Hero of Ukraine.”

On Saturday, The Facebook page of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine posted that members of the garrison may still be alive, “The SBGSU and the Armed Forces, like the whole of Ukraine, have received hope that all of Zmiiny’s defenders are alive,”

Russia Today, a state-controlled media outlet released footage by the Russian government that purported to show members of the Snake Islan garrison being offloaded in Sevastopol in Russian-controlled Ukraine and being given water and rations as they came off the ship.  The report claimed that these men were members of the island garrison, as Russia Today reported,

’82 Ukrainian troops who were deployed on Snake Island in the Black Sea, the Russian defense ministry claimed on Friday. They “laid down arms” and will be set free after pledging not to take part in military action against Russia, ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.’

As the Russia Today story did not include the names of any of the supposed prisoners combined with its reputation as being controlled by the Russian government, news outlets,(including SOFREP) were skeptical of the Russian claims that they had taken them prisoner without verification from the Ukraine government.

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