On June 30, the Russian troops retreated from Snake Island, a long-contested strategic and symbolic outpost since the invasion of Ukraine started. After the Russian’s withdrawal, the Ukrainian Navy announced that they had recaptured the island.

Moscow’s defense ministry said they withdrew their forces as a “goodwill gesture.” The withdrawal was aimed at facilitating grain exports. Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, the spokesman of the Russian Defense Ministry, said that their move shows that “the Russian Federation does not interfere with the efforts of the U.N. to organize a humanitarian corridor for the export of agricultural products from the territory of Ukraine.”

However, the Ukrainian military said that the Russian’s pull out from the island was due to the sustained attacks on the island. The Ukrainians had been using the weapons they had received from the West. They used these Western weapons to conduct a near-endless barrage of artillery and missile strikes on the Russian forces on the rocky all but barren island.

Snake Island on the morning of June 30, 2022. The official announcement of OK “South”: During the night, as a result of another successful stage of the military operation with strikes by our missile and artillery units on the Snake Island, the opponent hurriedly evacuated the remains of the garrison with two-speed boats and probably left the island. Currently, the island is covered in the fire; explosions are bursting. The final results of the operation are being investigated. (Mil.gov.uaCC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Because of these attacks, Russian forces struggled to hold the island and were constantly trying to resupply and sustain the garrison, only to see whatever they had landed get bombed the next day or in the next hour. These resupply efforts required a lot of resources from the Russian navy and air force to maintain their presence on this rock that Russia badly needed elsewhere. Finally, the attacks prompted the remaining Russian troops to leave the island in two speedboats.