The Russian Army has withdrawn from a strategic Ukrainian island in the Black Sea, known as Zmiinyi or Snake Island, which it had occupied at the beginning of the war that began against Ukraine more than four months ago, the Russian Defense Ministry reported. and the head of the Cabinet of the President of Ukraine.

“On June 30, as a measure of goodwill, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation completed their assigned tasks on Zmiiyiy Island and withdrew the garrison stationed there,” military spokesman Igor Konashénkov announced in the official account of the Ministry of Defense on Telegram.

Moscow explains the withdrawal with its desire to “demonstrate to the international community that Russia does not interfere in the UN’s efforts to organize a humanitarian corridor for the export of agricultural products from the territory of Ukraine.”

“This decision will not allow kyiv to speculate on the issue of an impending food crisis, referring to the impossibility of exporting grain due to Russia’s total control over the northwestern part of the Black Sea,” Konashenkov said.

For its part, Ukraine assured in a Twitter message of the withdrawal: “KABOOM! There are no longer any Russian troops on Snake Island. Our Armed Forces did a great job,” wrote Andriy Yermak, head of the president’s office. Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelensky on Twitter.

Russia believes that now “the ball is in Ukraine’s court, which has not yet cleared the Black Sea coast, including the waters near the port” of Odessa, the only one that remains under its control.

The rocky island, located in the Black Sea, about 45 kilometers from the Ukrainian and Romanian coasts, was seized by Russia at the beginning of the war in Ukraine.

Zmiinyi gained worldwide fame when a Ukrainian border guard, Roman Gribov, who was captured with twelve companions by the Russians on the small island, responded with a raised middle finger to the surrender demand of the commanders of the former flagship of the Russian Navy. Black Sea, the “Moskva”, sunk in April by Ukraine.

The island has great strategic value, as whoever controls it has control of the sea, land and air in the northwestern part of the Black Sea and southern Ukraine, with the important port city of Odessa within artillery range.

With a length of 662 meters and a width of 440 meters, it housed Russian air defense complexes, three units of rocket artillery systems, a group of boats and special forces units, according to the Department of Military Intelligence of Ukraine (GUR). .

It served to provide cover for Russian aviation and the Black Sea Fleet, among other strategic advantages.

For all this, kyiv wanted to recover it. The head of the GUR, Major General Kyrylo Budanov, recently assured that the counter-attacks will continue until Zmiinyi is liberated.

Ukrainian forces recently claimed to have destroyed and sunk another Russian ship, the “Vasili Bej” tug, when it was trying to transport weapons and reinforcement troops to the island.

In addition, last week they carried out two counter-attacks against the Russian garrison on the island, hitting a pair of Pantsir-C1 anti-aircraft missile and gun complexes, a radar station and military vehicles.

According to UK intelligence at the time, “Ukraine’s coastal defense has largely neutralized Russia’s ability to establish control of the sea and project a maritime force in the northwestern Black Sea.”

“This has undermined the viability of Russia’s original operational design for the invasion, which involved keeping the Odessa region at risk from the sea,” he said.

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