Volodymyr Zelenskyy has reached the 500th markth Day of Vladimir Putin’s War by visiting Snake Island – scene of one of Ukraine’s first major victories.
The strategic Black Sea outcrop acquired great importance in the early days of the invasion, when a Russian warship demanded either surrender or death from its Ukrainian defenders.
Her reaction to the approaching cruiser made headlines around the world: “F**k yourself.”
The phrase became a nationwide slogan, featured on Ukrainian billboards, T-shirts and eventually a postage stamp depicting a Ukrainian security guard standing on the ledge and pointing the finger at the flagship.
On the day of the stamp’s release, April 14, two Ukrainian missiles hit the Moscow River, the largest warship sunk in combat in 40 years.
Officially, it is said in Russia that a seaman died in an accident. Western experts assume that around half of the approximately 450-strong crew died at sea.
Russia was forced to abandon Snake Island on June 30 after suffering heavy casualties trying to defend it. The withdrawal was described as another “goodwill gesture”.
Zelenskyy was accompanied on the risky boat trip by his military intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov.
The Russian state media reported several times about the death or mortally wounded secret agent.
He told his people: “We will win” and said: “I wish you health, dear Ukrainians.” Today we are with Snake [Island]our serpent, which is never held by the inhabitants, for we are a land of the brave.
“Today we honor our Ukrainian heroes, all warriors who fought for this island and liberated it.” And this small piece of land in the middle of our Black Sea is great proof that Ukraine will give back every part of its territory.
“I want to thank you from here. Victories for each of our soldiers in these 500 days, for our armed forces, for our intelligence.”
Zelenskyy’s visit was part of his regular trips to the front lines, unlike Putin, who rarely goes near danger zones.
It drew the ire of hard-line Russian war analyst Sergei Mardan, who questioned how the visit could go ahead without an attack from the Kremlin.
“Zelenskyy arrived on Snake Island together with Budanov, which was ‘killed’ a month ago,” he fumed, saying they were “an ideal target for a missile attack” from Russian-held Crimea some 60 miles away.
“But they missed – again.”
Mardan questioned how Zelenskyi “comes freely to the front without fear for his life”.
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