Russia has taken control of the strategic ‘Serpent Island’ in the Black Sea, located just 44 km away from Romania’s coastal city of Sulina.
Ukraine’s state border guards service said Thursday that the Zmiinyi Island had been seized by the Russian forces. The service said it had lost contact with Ukrainian border guards and servicemen, stationed on the island, which is part of Ukraine’s Odessa administrative region.
At least 13 Ukrainian border guards were killed defending the island, said Interior Minister adviser Anton Herashchenko on Facebook.
Snake Island, also known as Serpent Island, is located approximately 35 km off Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, near the Danube Delta. It played an important role during the International Court of Justice’s hearings regarding the territorial dispute between Ukraine and Romania.
Capturing this island would enable Russia to place long-range missiles and other military installations in the Danube River delta area closer to the 30-member NATO defense alliance.
One of Russia’s main security demands, issued to the U.S. and NATO since December, was for the alliance to cease all cooperation with Ukraine and pull its forces back from other eastern European countries.
The Ukrainian military posted on its official Facebook page that Marine battalion engineer Vitaly Skakun Volodymyrovych blew himself up to destroy a bridge in an effort to stop Russian tanks from invading his country. He volunteered to place mines on the bridge connecting Russian-occupied Crimea and Ukraine.