Kremlin releases picture of 13 brave soldiers who chose to fight to the death against Russian forces and claims they actually SURRENDERED.
The group of Ukrainian border guards who told the Russian military to ‘go f*** yourself’ over the radio as they defended a small island in the Black Sea, and were thought to have been killed, may now actually be alive and being held as prisoners of war.
The guards defending Zmiinyi (Snake) Island, a strategically-significant speck of land south of the port of Odessa, had originally thought to have been killed but to have gone down in a blaze of linguistic glory during Thursday’s attacks.
But pictures released by the Russian Defense Ministry claim the Ukrainian servicemen are in fact still alive after ‘voluntarily’ surrendering their garrison to Russian troops.
Almost a dozen photos released by Russia purportedly show the men boarding buses, being given bottled water and a food parcel, before being shown sitting in their seats.
The authenticity of the information is still uncertain given that just a day earlier, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had promised to posthumously decorate ‘the heroic deceased border guards.’
On Friday, an audio clip shared online, an officer from a Russian military ship can be heard telling the Ukrainian guards to ‘lay down your arms immediately to avoid bloodshed and unjustified deaths’, adding ‘otherwise you will be bombed’.
After a brief discussion among themselves, the guards responded to the Russian navy saying: ‘Russian warship, go f*** yourself.’
Ukraine later lost contact with its forces defending the island on Thursday after Russia conducted strikes from the air and sea, officials in Kyiv said.
A video circulating on Twitter also appeared to show the moment that the island was shelled. It showed a Ukrainian soldier staring at a camera before a shell landed nearby.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky even promised in a speech summarizing Thursday’s fighting to decorate the deceased border guards.
But according to a statement released on Saturday by the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine the group are believed to have survived.
‘We [have a] strong belief that all Ukrainian defenders of Zmiinyi (Snake) Island may be alive,’ the statement said.
On Friday, Russia’s defense ministry said 82 Ukrainian soldiers on the island had surrendered to them voluntarily. It made no mention of carrying out strikes or inflicting casualties.
Russian Major-General Igor Konashenkov stated how the servicemen on the island ‘laid down their arms and voluntarily surrendered to a unit of the Russian Armed Forces.’
‘Russian media reported that Ukrainian servicemen on the island had been sent to Sevastopol’ in Crimea the statement explained.
Russian forces launched a full-scale invasion in the early hours of Thursday, Moscow’s most aggressive action since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.
Snake Island is ruled by Ukraine but sits just miles from the coast of Romania.
It is strategically important because it will allow Russia to claim territorial waters stretching 12 nautical miles out to sea.
They cover important shipping channels to the port cities of Odessa, Mykolaiv and Kherson.
After taking the island, Russia would have been able to cut off the shipping channels, isolating Ukraine from international markets and depriving its economy of vital trade revenues as it seeks to defend itself.