Ukrainian President Zelensky taunts Putin by visiting Snake Island to mark 500th day of war
Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky has visited the liberated Snake Island in the Black Sea to mark the 500th day of Vladimir Putin’s war in the country.
The strategic rock formation came to prominence early in the war when Ukrainian defenders were threatened by a Russian warship demanding their surrender.
The heroic defenders famously radioed the approaching Russian cruiser to ‘Go f*** yourself’.
The Russians seized the island, but later retreated in a humiliating setback to Putin that was bizarrely stylized as a “goodwill gesture.”
The Russian ship – the Moskva, the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet – was later sunk in a Ukrainian missile strike, arguably Putin’s biggest setback of the war.
The exact timing of Zelensky’s visit to Snake – or Zmiiny – Island was not immediately disclosed
Zelensky was seen by boat on a high-risk security operation – before giving a ‘We will surely win’ message to his people
Zelensky was seen arriving by boat in a high-risk security operation – before delivering a ‘We will surely win’ message to his people.
“I wish you health, dear Ukrainians,” he said when the 500-day limit was reached.
“Today we’re on Snake [Island]our Serpent, which will never be held by inhabitants, because we are a land of the brave.
“Today we honor our Ukrainian heroes, all the fighters who fought for and liberated this island.
And this little piece of land in the middle of our Black Sea is a great proof that Ukraine will return every part of its territory to itself.
“I want to thank you from this place.
“Victories for all our soldiers during these 500 days, our armed forces, our intelligence services.”
He praised all Ukrainian services for the defense of the country against Putin’s invaders.
“We are moving forward Thank you to each of you.”
While Zelensky regularly visits the front lines, Putin rarely, if ever, gets close to danger zones.
Volodymyr Zelensky lays flowers and candles during his visit to Snake Island (Zmiinyi Island), Odessa region
“Today we’re on Snake [Island]our Serpent, which will never be held by inhabitants, because we are a country of the brave,’ said Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers his address to Ukrainians on Zmiinyi Island (Snake Island) in the Black Sea, not far from Odessa
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky presents flowers to the defenders of Zmiinyi Island (Snake Island) on Zmiinyi Island in the Black Sea, not far from Odessa
Volodymyr Zelensky has visited a Black Sea island whose defenders defied a famous Russian warship at the start of the invasion as the conflict reaches its 500th day
Snake Island came to prominence early in the war when Ukrainian defenders were threatened by a Russian warship demanding their surrender
Moskva, the ship that ordered Snake Island’s troops to surrender, has since been destroyed and sank in the Black Sea after being hit by Ukrainian missiles.
The Russians seized the island but later retreated in a humiliating setback to Putin bizarrely stylized as a “goodwill gesture”
Snake Island was liberated on July 7, 2022 – an early sign of Ukraine’s determination to retake its territory
Russia seized control of the small island – which is strategically located in the Black Sea, close to Ukraine – on the first day of the war after bombing its defenders. Ukraine later regained the land in a humiliating way for the Russians
The Ukrainian president also posted a message on social media: “Snake – free island of free Ukraine.”
“Grateful to everyone who fought here against the [Russian] occupiers. We honor the memory of the heroes who gave their lives in this battle – one of the most important in a large-scale war.
Glory to all who fight for security in our Black Sea. Honor!’
Snake Island was liberated on July 7, 2022 – an early sign of Ukraine’s determination to retake its territory.
At the time, guard chief Arut Papoian said, “Snake Island has always been Ukrainian and always will be. And no temporary occupation will change that.
‘Our battalion was the first to visit Snake Island after liberation. It was risky, but now our flag flies on the island. Soon all of Ukraine will be liberated. We will win together.’
The exact timing of Zelensky’s visit to Snake – or Zmiiny – Island was not immediately disclosed.
Russian hardline war analyst Sergei Mardan expressed outrage that Zelensky was able to visit the island without being attacked by Putin’s forces. He also complained that Kyrylo Budanov, chief of Ukrainian military intelligence, had escorted the president from Kiev to Snake Island.
The hated Budanov has been reported dead or mortally wounded several times by Russian state television – but he was clearly alive for this Black Sea island foray.
Budanov – widely admired in Ukraine and the West – is blamed for the murder of harsh war critics in Russia.
“Zelensky arrived on Snake Island ‘killed’ with Budanov a month ago,” Mardan grunted.
They were “an ideal target for a missile attack” from Russian-occupied Crimea, some 100 kilometers away. “But they didn’t strike again,” he added.
He wondered how Zelensky “gets to the front lines freely, without fear for his life.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in Istanbul today.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy arrives at the Patriarchal Church of St. George in Istanbul earlier on Saturday
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, today addresses a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Istanbul, Turkey
As Zelensky made the journey to Snake Island, his troops made “steady gains” in besieged Bakhmut.
An intelligence update from the British Ministry of Defense on Saturday morning said that after a “silence in June 2023”, Bakhmut was “again the scene of some of the most intense fighting along the front” over the past week.
The statement added: “Ukrainian forces have made steady gains in both the north and south of the Russian-occupied city. Russian defenders most likely struggle with poor morale, a mix of disparate units and a limited ability to find and engage Ukrainian artillery.
The Russian leadership almost certainly sees it as politically unacceptable to admit Bakhmut, which has symbolic weight as one of the few Russian gains in the past 12 months. However, there are most likely few extra reserves to commit to the sector.’