Snake Island in the Black Sea has seen some heavy fighting in the Russia-Ukraine war. At the very start of the war, Ukrainian soldiers defending Snake Island famously defied an order from a Russian warship to surrender. Russia captured the island, but Ukraine later won it back.
President Volodymyr Zelensky has posted a video of himself visiting an island that became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance – as the war enters its 500th day.
In a video, the Ukrainian president called it a “place of victory” that would never be reconquered.
“I want to thank from here, from this place of victory, each of our soldiers for these 500 days,” Mr Zelensky said in the video, in which he was shown arriving on the island by boat and leaving flowers at a memorial.
Last year, Russia’s flagship Moskva sailed to Snake Island within hours of the start of the war and ordered Ukrainian soldiers on the island to give themselves up.
“I suggest you lay down your weapons and surrender to avoid bloodshed and needless casualties. Otherwise, you will be bombed,” said a Russian officer.
The Ukrainian response and verbal exchange went viral as a soldier replied telling the Russian warship to “go to hell” – although in far cruder language.
Snake Island was seized and the Ukrainian soldiers were taken prisoner – but later swapped for Russian prisoners.
Ukrainian forces recaptured the island in June last year.
Saturday’s video comes after Mr Zelensky spent much of the week visiting European leaders as part of a diplomatic tour to ramp up support for Ukraine’s Nato’s membership.
Both Ukraine and Russia have been using cluster munitions throughout the war, but the US’s decision has proved controversial.
Cluster bombs are a method of dispersing large numbers of tiny bomblets from a rocket, missile or artillery shell that scatters them in mid-flight over a wide area.
They are intended to explode on impact but a significant proportion are “duds”, meaning they don’t explode initially – this happens especially if they land on wet or soft ground.
From a military perspective, they can be extremely effective when used against dug-in ground troops in trenches and fortified positions, rendering large areas too dangerous to move around in until carefully cleared, but opponents of the weapon say that they are also extremely dangerous to civilian populations and children, as they may explode at a later date on being picked up or trodden on, killing or maiming the victim.
Mr Zelensky called the latest US arms package “timely, broad and much-needed”, tweeting that it “will provide new tools for the de-occupation of our land”.
Sources: BBC, News agencies, Telegram.