Image ID CBR6M9 Zmiinyi Island, Snake Island, Black Sea, Odessa, Ukraine, Eastern Europe 22082019 CREDIT Andrey Nekrasov, Alamy Stock Photo.jpg
Snake Island, with an area of only 42 acres, has strategic importance (Picture: Andrey Nekrasov/Alamy Stock Photo).
Ukraine

Russian forces withdraw from Ukraine's Snake Island

The Black Sea island gained almost mythical status as a talisman of Ukrainian defence earlier on in Russia's invasion.

Image ID CBR6M9 Zmiinyi Island, Snake Island, Black Sea, Odessa, Ukraine, Eastern Europe 22082019 CREDIT Andrey Nekrasov, Alamy Stock Photo.jpg
Snake Island, with an area of only 42 acres, has strategic importance (Picture: Andrey Nekrasov/Alamy Stock Photo).

Russia's Defence Ministry says it has withdrawn its forces from a Black Sea island near Ukraine's port of Odessa.

The ministry said it pulled back its forces from Zmiyinyy (Snake) Island on Thursday in what it described as a "goodwill gesture".

It added that the withdrawal demonstrates that "the Russian Federation wasn't hampering the United Nations' efforts to establish a humanitarian corridor for taking agricultural products from the territory of Ukraine".

Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of blockading Ukrainian ports to prevent the exports of grain, contributing to the global food crisis.

Moscow has denied the accusations and claimed Ukraine needs to remove mines from the Black Sea to allow safe navigation.

Andriy Yermak, head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's office, wrote on Twitter: "No Russian troops on the Snake Island anymore. Our Armed Forces did a great job."

Responding to the news, Boris Johnson praised the Ukrainians for having taken back Snake Island.

Speaking from the NATO conference in Madrid, the Prime Minister said: "If you wanted evidence of the amazing ability of the Ukrainians to fight back, to overcome adversity, and to repel the Russians, then look at what has happened just today on Snake Island where Russia has to cede ground.”

Russia took control of the island in the opening days of its military action in Ukraine in an apparent hope to help it to control the area and use it as a staging ground for an attack on Odessa.

Russian forces stationed there have come under relentless Ukrainian attacks.

Snake Island became well-known early on during Russia's invasion of Ukraine, as a group of Ukrainian border guards were recorded telling a Russian warship to "go f*** yourself".