Russian forces withdraw from Ukrainian strategic Snake Island

A satellite image shows an overview of Snake Island, Ukraine, June 21, 2022. Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS

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KYIV, June 30 (Reuters) – Russian forces have withdrawn from Ukraine’s Serpents’ Island, a strategic outpost in the Black Sea, the Russian Defense Ministry and the office of the Ukrainian president said on Thursday.

Snake Island, which Russia occupied on the first day of its invasion, rose to fame when Ukrainian border guards stationed there denied a request from a Russian warship to surrender. Read more

“KABOOM! More Russian troops on Snake Island. Our armed forces have done a great job,” Andriy Yermak, head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office, wrote on Twitter. Read more

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The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that Russian troops had withdrawn from Snake Island, calling it a “goodwill gesture” and saying the troops had fulfilled their assigned tasks.

The Russian ministry added that the decision showed that Russia was not hindering UN efforts to organize a humanitarian corridor to export agricultural products out of Ukraine.

Reuters was unable to immediately verify the Ukrainian and Russian accounts.

On Wednesday, Russia declared its readiness to work with the United Nations to tackle the risks of a global food crisis, following a conversation between Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the UN Secretary General. Antonio Guterres, but no concrete measures were announced at the time.

Last month, the British Ministry of Defense said that if Russia was able to consolidate its position on Snake Island with strategic air defense and coastal defense cruise missiles, it could dominate the North West Sea. Black. Read more

The Southern Ukrainian Military Command wrote on Facebook that Russian forces evacuated in two boats following an operation involving missile and artillery units.

Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, Yermak, said Ukrainian armed forces had driven Russian troops off the island and said Russia’s claim that the withdrawal was out of goodwill was false.

He repeated Ukrainian accusations that Russia was causing a global food crisis by blockading Ukrainian ports and targeting storage facilities.

Since Russia’s invasion on February 24, Ukrainian grain shipments from its Black Sea ports have stalled and millions of tonnes of grain are stuck in silos.

Moscow says it is Kyiv’s responsibility to remove mines from ports to free up shipping lanes and says Western sanctions against it are making the situation worse.

A first cargo ship left the Russian-occupied Ukrainian port of Berdyansk in the Sea of ​​Azov in eastern Ukraine, a local official said on Thursday, after Russia said the port had been cleared and was ready to resume grain shipments.

Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies, while Russia is also a major global exporter of fertilizers and Ukraine is a major exporter of corn and sunflower oil.

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Reporting by Max Hunder Writing by Alexander Winning Editing by Nick Macfie and Frank Jack Daniel

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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