UPDATE, Feb. 28, 2022: The Ukraine government announced Monday that the border guards on Snake Island had been captured, not killed. “We are very happy to learn that our brothers are alive and well with them!” the Ukraine navy said in a Facebook post.
As Ukraine attempts to fend off Russian aggression, the odds may seem stacked against the smaller nation. Nonetheless, the Ukrainians certainly will not go down without a fight.
In a stunning act of bravery, 13 border guards stationed at Ukraine’s Snake Island refused to back down up to their very last breath, Ukraine’s government said.
According to the New York Post, a Russian warship showed up off the coast of the island, also known as Zmiinyi.
Political commentator Ian Bremmer posted audio of the ensuing exchange on Twitter.
“This is a Russian warship, I repeat,” a Russian soldier reportedly said. “I suggest you surrender your weapons and capitulate otherwise I will open fire. Do you copy?”
After conferring with his colleagues, one Ukrainian guard issued a defiant answer.
“Russian warship, go f*** yourself,” the guard said.
WARNING: The following video contains vulgar language that some viewers may find offensive.
last words for some incredibly brave ukrainians pic.twitter.com/cRYCzGRQtB
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) February 25, 2022
Strong as that language may be, one can certainly appreciate the emotions these border guards must have felt as a Russian warship stared them down.
The guards easily could have surrendered to Russia, and if they had done so, they might have survived.
Instead, the Ukrainians decided to put the honor of their country above concern for their own lives.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said all 13 border guards died in the ensuing attack, CNN reported. However, their bravery did not go unnoticed.
“All border guards died heroically but did not give up,” Zelenskyy said. “They will be awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine posthumously.”
Russia blatantly captured Ukrainian island #Zmiinyi, destroying the infrastructure. All 13 ?? border guards were killed, refusing to surrender. They will be awarded the title «Hero of Ukraine» postmortem, says @ZelenskyyUa
— MFA of Ukraine ?? (@MFA_Ukraine) February 25, 2022
A separate video posted to Twitter apparently showed the moment the Russians attacked Snake Island. A man wearing a helmet was live streaming on social media when loud gunfire rang out and he dropped to the ground.
Ukrainian soldier deployed on Snake Island live streamed the moment a Russian warship opened fire on the Island.
13 soldiers died in the attack. pic.twitter.com/FDe92rYYVR
— C O U P S U R E (@COUPSURE) February 24, 2022
According to the Post, the Russian warship opened fire on Snake Island after the border guards refused to lay down their arms. After that, Russian aircraft bombed the island from above.
Even though Snake Island spans just 46 acres, experts considered it a major strategic holding for Ukraine, CNN reported.
It was on that very island that Zelenskyy delivered a speech last year before his summit attempting to reverse Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
“This island, like the rest of our territory, is Ukrainian land, and we will defend it with all our might,” he said, according to CNN.
One year later, Russia has exponentially amplified the pressure. Still, citizens of Ukraine are holding to Zelenskyy’s promise.
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