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Russia abandons the Black Sea outpost on Snake Island with Ukraine's victory

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MaxHunder and TomBalmforth

KYIV — Russian troops abandon Snake Island's strategic Black Sea outpost on Thursday and loosen the grip of Russia's blockade with a Ukrainian victory There was a possibility of a port in Ukraine.

Russia said it had decided to withdraw from the open air off the southwest coast of Ukraine to show that Moscow did not interfere with the UN's attempt to open a humanitarian corridor. ..

Ukraine said it had expelled Russian troops after an overnight fire and missile attack.

"KABOOM". Andriy Yermak, Staff Chief of Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelenskiy President, tweeted. "There are no more Russian troops on Snake Island. Our troops did a great job."

But in contrast, Ukrainian officials in the eastern Luhansk province, who fought a fierce battle, said. He explained the difficulties of Ukrainian troops in the city of Lisichansk on Thursday.

Russian artillery fired from different directions while Russian troops approached from different sides, regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Ukrainian television.

"Because it is so dangerous, residents are told to stay in an underground shelter indefinitely," Guydai said.

Officials from the pro-Russian separatist administration in Luhansk told the RIA press that the Risichank oil refinery is now fully controlled by Russian and pro-Russian troops, all to Risiksuk. He said the road was also under control. Ukraine says the main roads are almost impassable due to combat, but the city is not yet completely blocked.

In a nightly video speech, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy commented on both Snake Island and the Donbus region, which consists of the states of Doneck and Luhansk on the Russian border. Did.

The restoration of Snake Island was important to the situation in the Black Sea, but "it's not yet a guarantee of security. It's not yet guaranteed that the enemy won't come back," he said. rice field.

In Luhansk and Donetsk, the Russians "just brought all the reserves to attack us," Zelensky said.

Russian Firepower

Russian troops have been licychansk since last week occupying Sievierodnetsk on the other side of the Siverskidnetz River after weeks of fierce fighting. I've been trying to surround you.

Russia has focused its fire on occupying cities and towns in the Donbus region.

Despite giving up ground in Donbus and suffering punishable losses in recent weeks, Ukraine does enough damage to exhaust Russia's advancing troops. I hope that. Ukrainian troops have launched a counterattack in the southern part of the region.

Gaidai and Zelenskiy both mentioned Russia's overwhelming dominance of equipment and artillery in the Battle of Lysychansk. Western allies in Ukraine are sending weapons, and the Kyiv government has been given another boost with the United States saying it will provide an additional $ 800 million in weapons and military aid.

US President Joe Byden said after the NATO Summit in Madrid that Washington and his allies were united to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"I don't know how it will end, but it won't end with Russia defeating Ukraine," Byden said at a press conference. "We will support Ukraine as much as necessary."

When Putin visited Russia's Foreign Intelligence Agency (SVR) on Thursday, one of SVR's main missions was: He said it was to get timely information about foreign military and geographic strategic plans that could threaten Russia. agency.

Smoke and Fire

Snake Island was retaken by Ukraine a few weeks after the momentum of the conflict four months ago seemed to shift in favor of Russia. ..

The Ukrainian army has posted an image of what looks like an island from the sky on Facebook, with some black smoke pillars on it.

"The enemy rushed to evacuate the wreckage of the garrison with two speedboats and probably left the island. Now Snake Island is being consumed by a fire and explodes. Is exploding. "

Ukrainian General Brigadier Oleksii Hromov said Ukrainian troops have not yet occupied the island, but will.

The rocky dew overlooks the sea lane to Odesa, Ukraine's main Black Sea port. Here, Russia is blocking food cargo from the world's leading grain suppliers.

After Russia occupied Snake Island on the first day of the war, Snake Island attracted the world's attention. A Ukrainian guard ordered to surrender by the Russian flagship cruiser Moskva replied wirelessly, "Russian warship: let's do it ourselves."

Breaking the blockade was a major Western goal. US Secretary of State Antony Brinken has accused Russia of deliberately causing world hunger as a "blackmail."

Moscow has denied blocking the port, blaming western sanctions for food shortages and stating that it has restricted its exports.

"We do not prevent Ukrainian grain exports. Ukrainian troops have dug up an approach to their port. No one has prevented them from clearing those mines. , We guarantee the safety of transporting grain from there, "Putin said Thursday.

Some military experts have stated that driving Russians from Snake Island is not enough to unblock the harbor.

"Does that mean a sudden flow of grain? No, it's not," said Marcus Falkner, a war research instructor at King's College London.

Russia has been defending the island since February, despite alleging that Ukraine caused serious damage, sank supply vessels and destroyed a Russian fortress.

New weapons sent from the West, especially HIMARS, a US-supplied rocket system that Ukraine launched last week, made Russia's garrison even more vulnerable. Russia's abandonment of the island "is likely the result of NATO's delivery of weapons to Ukraine," said Rob Lee of the US-based Foreign Policy Institute.

(Report by Reuters bureaux, Written by Peter Graff, Angus MacSwan, Grant McCool, Edited by Frank Jack Daniel, Andrew Heavens, Deepa Babington)