Ukraine Hoists Flag on Snake Island After Russian Forces Withdraw

New video images show the Ukrainian flag flying once more over Snake Island in the Black Sea after Russian troops were forced to abandon it.

Soldiers can be seen setting up the flag before one of them walks over to a pile of rubble that was once a building. He picks up a large chunk of concrete or rock and heads back over to the flag, which can be seen rippling in the wind. He places it at the base of the flag to keep it in place as the footage ends.

The footage was obtained from the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on Thursday, July 7. It was also relayed by Air Command West of the Ukrainian Air Force and by the Office of Strategic Communications (StratCom) of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

StratCom said: "The Ukrainian flag has been installed again on Zmiinyi Island!"

Snake Island, also known as Zmiinyi Island, is part of Ukraine and is located in the Black Sea. It was recaptured by Ukrainian forces after the Russians abandoned it following heavy shelling.

The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valery Zaluzhny, previously said: "Unable to withstand the fire of our artillery, missile and air strikes, the occupiers left Snake Island."

However, the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed via state media that they had left Island as a "gesture of goodwill". The Russian MoD claimed: "On June 30, the Russian Armed Forces made a gesture of goodwill and completed the tasks on Zmiinyi Island and withdrew the garrison that was there."

But Andriy Yermak, 50, head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine, derided the Russian statement, saying that "all this is a complete fake," adding that "the Ukrainian Armed Forces drove the Russians out of Snake Island."

Snake Island made international headlines at the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, when a group of Ukrainian soldiers famously told a Russian warship that was demanding their surrender that it could "go f**k itself."

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The Ukraine flag flies again on Snake Island. Footage was shared by the Ukrainian armed forces on Thursday, July 7. Zenger/@AFUStratCom

The Russian warship is said to have demanded: "Snake Island, I, Russian warship, repeat the offer: put down your arms and surrender, or you will be bombed. Have you understood me? Do you copy?"

But the Ukrainians replied: "Russian warship, go f**k yourself."

The Russians then opened fire on the Ukrainian positions. It was at first thought that the Russians had pounded the Ukrainian soldiers into oblivion but it later emerged that they survived. They were detained by the Russians and regained their freedom during a prisoner exchange in late March before being given medals for their bravery.

The ship that had asked the Ukrainians to surrender, the Moskva, was later damaged. It then sank, with the Ukrainians claiming that it had been hit by their Neptune anti-ship missiles. The Russians, however, claimed that a fire on board had caused the ship's munitions to explode and that it had sunk while being towed to port.

We contacted the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for further comment, as well as the Russian Ministry of Defense, but haven't received a reply at the time of writing.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what the Kremlin is still calling a "special military operation." July 8 marks the 135th day of the invasion.

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The Ukraine flag flies again on Snake Island. Ukraine recently recaptured the island. Zenger/@AFUStratCom

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that between February 24 and July 7, Russia had lost about 36,650 personnel, 1,602 tanks, 3,797 armored combat vehicles, 815 artillery units, 247 multiple launch rocket systems, 107 air defense systems, 217 warplanes, 187 helicopters, 667 drones, 155 cruise missiles, 15 warships, 2,665 motor vehicles and fuel tankers, and 66 units of special equipment.

Russian forces are intensifying their attacks in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine. Civilians are fleeing Sloviansk as Russian forces push towards the city. This comes after the Donetsk regional governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko, urged 350,000 civilians to evacuate the area.

British intelligence has said that the battle for Sloviansk will probably be the next key target for Russian forces. The UK Ministry of Defense said that Russian forces "from the Eastern and Western Groups of Forces are likely now around 16 kilometers [10 miles] north from the town of Sloviansk. With the town also under threat from the Central and Southern Groups of Forces, there is a realistic possibility that the battle for Sloviansk will be the next key contest in the struggle for the Donbas."

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The Ukraine flag flies again on Snake Island. Russia has called troop withdrawal from the island a "gesture of goodwill". Zenger/@AFUStratCom

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that heavy weapons from Ukraine's western allies have finally started working at "full capacity" on the frontlines, with Ukraine's General Staff denying Russian claims that two U.S.-supplied HIMARS light multiple rocket launchers had been destroyed. They instead said that the weapons were being used to inflict "devastating blows" on the invading forces.

Luhansk's regional governor Serhiy Haidai has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of carrying out a scorched earth policy, "burning down and destroying everything on their way" as resistance remains strong in villages around the city of Lysychansk, which recently fell to Russian forces.

The Russian parliament is rushing through two new bills to impose strict controls on the country's economy and require that businesses supply the armed forces.

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The Ukraine flag flies again on Snake Island. Russian forces were reportedly forced to abandon the island after heavy shelling. Zenger/@AFUStratCom

The United Nations has said that nearly 9 million people have now left Ukraine since the beginning of Russia's invasion. Ukraine's Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova has said that the country is investigating over 21,000 Russian war crimes committed since the beginning of the invasion.

A court in Russia has ordered the suspension of Kazakh oil exports to the West for a month. Russia controls the Novorossiisk Black Sea oil terminal where tankers are loaded with oil that transits, via a pipeline, from Kazakhstan's Tengiz oilfield. Western sanctions have restricted Russia's oil and gas exports, increasing demand for producers like Kazakhstan.

But the president of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, has refused to recognize the separatist, pro-Russian, so-called People's Republic of Donetsk and the People's Republic of Luhansk, in eastern Ukraine, and has also said that Kazakhstan might increase its oil exports to the European Union.

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.