Ukraine raises its flag over Snake Island once again

Ukraine raised its flag once againa over Snake Island in the Black Sea on Monday.

Military officials in Kyiv said the blue and yellow flag was raised after Russian forces withdrew from the strategic outpost last week.

“The military operation has been concluded, and... the territory (Snake Island) has been returned to the jurisdiction of Ukraine,” Natalia Humeniuk, spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern military command, told a news conference.

Ukraine claims it it has driven the Russian forces out after an artillery and missile assault.

Russia said it had pulled out from the island last Thursday as a “gesture of goodwill” to show it was not obstructing United Nations attempts to open a humanitarian corridor allowing grain to be shipped from Ukraine, a claim that was greeted with scepticism in some parts.

Some analysts have said Russia’s withdrawal from Snake Island off Ukraine’s southwestern coast could loosen its blockade on Ukrainian ports.

The island has become one of the most talked about pieces of land during the war.

Located just 22 miles from the shores of Nato member Romania, the island – also known as Zmiinyi – had been held by Moscow since February.

It has taken on symbolic as well as strategic importance after a Ukrainian soldier’s defiant response to the Russian warship, the Moskva, demanding troops there surrender, was adopted as a popular battle cry.

The Moskva was subsequently sunk.

On Thursday, after Kyiv reported launching a barrage of strikes on the island, Russia’s foreign ministry said it had ceded the territory in conjunction with UN-brokered agreements “in order to organise humanitarian grain corridors”.

The following day, however, Russian Su-30 fighter jets launched from Crimea conducted two strikes on the island using phosphorus bombs, according to the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s army, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi.

Control of Snake Island means dominance over the land and, to some extent, the air security of southern Ukraine, Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov suggested in May, as he explained why Kyiv would fight for the island “for as long as it takes”.

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