After being initially declared by the Ukrainian government dead, the sailors from Snake Island who gained international fame as an audio recording of their supposed “last words” saying “Go f*ck yourself” to a Russian warship are now freed through a prisoner exchange that had occurred last Thursday.

The Ukrainian Parliament (also known as the Verkhovna Rada) reported that 19 Ukrainian sailors stationed on Snake Island were freed as part of an exchange of “war hostages.” The exchange was said to be executed upon Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s orders.

Furthermore, according to Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk, Russia and Ukraine agreed to swap prisoners in what she called to be the “first full-fledged swap” of the 5-week-old conflict. An additional 10 Ukrainian servicemen were freed along with the previously mentioned 19 Ukrainian sailors, including those from the Sapphire rescue ship. They were also captured due to their efforts to rescue the Snake Island sailors away from the Russians.

However, it is important to note that Vereshchuk characterized the 19 Ukrainian sailors as “civilian sailors,” whereas the Ukrainian Parliament classified them as the sailors from Snake Island. This may possibly be a translation error from Vereshchuk. You may see her announcement on her Telegram.

In exchange, the Ukrainian side had released 10 captured Russians along with 11 Russian sailors who were earlier rescued by the Ukrainian Armed Forces from a ship that sank near the vicinity of Odesa. The rescue ship will also be returned to Ukraine through a port in Turkey.