Ukrainian marine shares first-hand account of Snake Island defense

Snake Island (Zmiinyi Island)
Snake Island (Zmiinyi Island)

Ukrainian Marine Roman Hrybov, one of the defenders of Snake Island on the first day of the full-scale war, recounted the moment he first spotted Russian ships off the coast during the initial stages of the invasion. His detailed account was shared in an interview with Voice of America on May 2.

When asked if he remembered the moment he saw the Russian fleet, Hrybov replied, "It will probably never go out of my mind."

Read also: Zelenskyy makes surprise visit to Snake Island to mark 500 days of Ukraine's fight for freedom

"On February 24, at 4:30 a.m. EET, we were all already at our combat positions," he said.

"We initially expected Russian aircraft. They were supposed to head our way, but they somehow avoided us. Then, we received word that their ships were beginning to move towards us."

Read also: Inside the daring mission to liberate Snake Island from Russian control

Hrybov noted that around 6 a.m., as it was just getting light, they sighted the first ship from a distance.

"At that time, we couldn't identify the ship because it was very far away, about 15 kilometers," Hrybov explained.

"As it got closer, we recognized it as the well-known cruiser Moskva, with the landing ship Vasyl Bykov to its left."

He mentioned that a window was given until noon to evacuate civilians working on the island.

"After the evacuation, the cruiser Moskva launched a heavy initial attack on Snake Island to demonstrate its firepower and then pulled back about five kilometers from the island," he recalled.

"At the time, we didn't understand why, but it became clear an hour later when their aircraft began targeting us."

Hrybov pointed out the lack of anti-ship weapons on the island.

"We could engage their aircraft," he added, "but we were powerless against the cruiser. All we could do was hold our ground. Somehow, we managed to last until 5 p.m., which gave Odessa time to brace for the Russian advance."

Liberation of Snake Island

Snake Island in western Black Sea was liberated on July 7, 2022. After powerful strikes of Armed Forces of Ukraine on June 30, 2022, the Russians hastily evacuated remains of garrison and left the island.

Russian Ministry of Defense then called escape of its military from the island a "gesture of goodwill."

Operation to liberate Zmiinyi was officially completed on July 4, and on July 7, 2022, Ukrainian soldiers planted flag of Ukraine on the island.

In July of this year, Russian troops dropped three bombs on Snake Island. That happened after Russia withdrew from the grain deal.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine