A Russian warship at sunset ahead of the Navy Day parade in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, Crimea, July 27, 2019. (Alexey Pavlishak/Reuters)
The Ukrainian border guards initially presumed to have been killed in action on Snake Island, a small, Black Sea outpost off the Ukrainian coast are now believed to have been captured by Russian forces.
An exchange between the Ukrainians stationed there and an encroaching Russian warship in the early hours of the war had provided Russia with a geographic victory and Ukraine with a morale boost.
“I am a Russian warship, I ask you to lay down your arms and surrender to avoid bloodshed and unnecessary deaths. Otherwise, you will be bombed,” said the Russians over the radio.
“Russian warship, go f*** yourself,” replied the Ukrainians after a short conversation amongst themselves.
It was originally believed that the plucky Ukrainians had then been fired upon and killed, but the Ukrainian Navy has since confirmed that they were captured instead. “We are very happy to learn that our brothers are alive and well,” it declared in a statement.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, who stated last August that “this island, like the rest of our territory, is Ukrainian land, and we will defend it with all our might,” had said that the guards would be awarded the country’s highest military honor.
The incident provided and early example of the fog of war and its effects, as reporting on the conflict is clouded by distance, efforts to capitalize on potential PR victories, and the general confusion over the multiplicity of events occurring at any one time.
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