30 Jun 2022

Russian Forces Withdraw From Ukraine's Snake Island

Russian troops withdrew from Snake Island, Ukraine, the strategic center of the Black Sea, Russia's defense ministry and the Ukrainian presidency said on Thursday.
Snake Island, where Russia lived on the first day of the invasion, became famous when Ukrainian border guards were on their way to reject a Russian submarine application for surrender.
"KABOOM! There are no more Russian troops on Snake Island. Our troops have done a good job," Andriy Yermak, head of the office of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskiy, wrote on Twitter.

Russia's Defense Ministry has confirmed that Russian troops have withdrawn from Snake Island, calling it a "good deed" and saying the military has already fulfilled its mandate.

The Russian ministry added that the move shows that Russia is not blocking UN efforts to set up a tunnel to help people export agricultural products to Ukraine.

Reuters could not immediately verify the accounts of Ukraine and Russia.

Russia on Wednesday said it was ready to work with the United Nations to combat the global food crisis, following talks between Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, but no concrete steps were announced at the time.

Last month the British Ministry of Defense said that if Russia was able to consolidate its position on Snake Island with air defense missiles and coastal defense arrows, it could dominate the northwest of the Black Sea.

The commander of the southern Ukrainian army wrote on Facebook that Russian troops had left with two boats following a campaign involving missiles and ammunition.

Zelenskiy's military chief Yermak said Ukrainian troops had expelled Russian troops from the island and said it was untrue that Russia had said the withdrawal of troops was for good intentions.

He reiterated the Ukrainian allegations that Russia is creating a global food crisis by blocking Ukrainian ports and directing them to destinations.

Since Russia invaded in Feb. 24, Ukrainian grain shipments from its Black Sea ports have stopped and millions of tons of grain are trapped.

Moscow says Kyiv is on the brink of clearing mines from ports to clear ports and that Western sanctions are making the situation worse.

The first cargo ship left the Ukrainian port in Berdyansk in Ukraine living in Berdyansk on the Azov Sea in eastern Ukraine, a local official said on Thursday, after Russia said the port had been cleared and ready to resume grain shipping.

Russia and Ukraine account for about a third of the world's total wheat production, with Russia also the world's largest producer of export fertilizers and Ukraine's largest exporter of maize and sunflower oil.

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