There are moments in every war in which the horrors of a far-off battle are suddenly brought into the homes of every person, regardless of nationality, and suddenly, war becomes real, sacrifice becomes heroic, and the spirit of a struggle captivates the world.
Such are the last moments on tiny Zmiinyi Island, known to the West as Snake Island, where 13 Ukrainian soldiers stood to face a Russian warship and defiantly told the aggressors to “go f***” themselves before a missile strike ended their lives.
Audio from the soldiers, as the menacing craft warned them to surrender, has circled the globe on social media.
“This is Russian warship,” the ship announces. “I repeat, I suggest you surrender your weapons and capitulate. Otherwise, I will open fire. Do you copy?”
“This is it,” one soldier can be heard saying. “Should I tell him to go f*** himself?”
“Just in case,” another soldier says.
And then the official response from the threatened Ukrainians: “Russian warship, go f*** yourself!”
And that was it.
The warship decimated the island, striking the barracks, and killing all 13 of the brave soldiers.
In a haunting post, one of the soldiers live-streamed the moment Russia opened fire.
This is one of the Ukrainian soldiers who died defending the island known as Snake Island.
They live-streamed the moment the Russian warship opened fire:pic.twitter.com/nhedom6QbU
— Leah McElrath 🏳️🌈 (@leahmcelrath) February 25, 2022
Soon after, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry confirmed Ukraine had lost connection with the border guards.
Just in: Russia has overtaken Ukrainian territory on Snake Island in the Black Sea, per Interior Ministry statement.
Ukraine has lost connection with the border guards fighting Russian troops there.
— Jack Detsch (@JackDetsch) February 24, 2022
In a press briefing, a weary Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated, “Sadly, today we lost 137 heroes, our citizens. Ten of them were officers. Three hundred-sixteen people have been wounded.”
“Defending the Zmiinyi Island, all our border guards died a heroic death,” he continued. “But they have not surrendered. They will all be awarded posthumously the title of the Hero of Ukraine.”
“Let those who gave their lives for Ukraine be remembered forever,” he stated.
Snake Island is strategically located off the coast of Romania, reported The Daily Mail.
“Snake Island is strategically important because it will allow Russia to claim territorial waters stretching 12 nautical miles out to sea,” the outlet stated. “They cover important shipping channels to the port cities of Odessa, Mykolaiv and Kherson. After taking the island, Russia would have been able to cut off the shipping channels, isolating Ukraine from international markets and depriving its economy of vital trade revenues as it seeks to defend itself.”
While the island may now be lost to Putin, the border guards’ courage has ignited a symphony of support for Ukraine.
“A sentiment that will resonate and live on across the world,” wrote one Twitter user. “RIP the defenders of Snake Island. Russian warship, go f*** yourself.”
“Such a bada** way to go out,” tweeted another. “Long live the Snake Island 13.”
Yet another tweeter brought the Russia-Ukraine conflict into perspective for Americans: “To any American complaining about the price of gasoline, consider that ‘Live Free or Die’ is more than a bumper sticker,” he wrote. “Those young soldiers chose to die for something in which they believed — their identity as free people, not subjects. I will go to Snake Island to honor them.”
A sentiment that will resonate and live on across the world. RIP the defenders of Snake Island. Russian warship, go fuck yourself. https://t.co/Q8HMGkP689
— Gina (@4ATwizzles) February 25, 2022
Such a badass way to go out. Long live the Snake Island 13. 🇺🇦 https://t.co/CIbWhkQH9A
— Mariah Comeau (@mariahkathleeen) February 25, 2022
To any American complaining about the price of gasoline, consider that "Live Free or Die" is more than a bumper sticker. Those young soldiers chose to die for something in which they believed — their identity as free people, not subjects. I will go to Snake Island to honor them.
— Michael Shore (@Michael83579532) February 25, 2022
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