First captured by Russia in February when the war began, the Black Sea island garnered particular attention when a Ukrainian soldier challenged an attacking Russian warship with a memorable phrase...
Russian forces have retreated from Snake Island in the Black Sea after a “successful” operation, said the Ukrainian Armed Forces on Thursday. Military experts say Ukraine’s recapturing the strategic island weakens any potential plans Russia may have for a future land attack located on the coastline.
Early on Thursday Ukrainian Armed Forces said Russian forces were forced to evacuate using speedboats. The Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Valeriy Zaluzhniy, said on Telegram that the "occupiers" had left after being “unable to withstand the fire of our artillery, missile and air strikes."
Moscow cast the news in a different light, with Lieutenant General of the Russian Armed Forces Igor Konashenkov saying Russia left the island "as a gesture of goodwill,” as a way to allow the passage of grain for export. The blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports by Russia has sent global grain prices skyrocketing and threatened famine in certain countries in the developing world.
A key adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mykhailo Podolyak, has dismissed the Russian claims and tweeted that “in order for Moscow to show its goodwill, we have to beat it up regularly.”
Snake Island was first captured by Russia in February when the war began. It garnered particular attention when a Ukrainian soldier located on the island told an attacking Russian warship to “go f*ck yourself,” thus becoming one of the most popular Ukrainian slogans of resistance.
Putin Sends Mixed Messages As NATO Opens Door To Finland And Sweden
Russian President Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin has reacted with mixed messages to NATO’s formal invitation to Sweden and Finland to become members of the military alliance. "The accession of Finland and Sweden will make them safer, NATO stronger, and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure,”NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a press conference in Madrid where leaders of the world’s largest defense alliance have been meeting since Tuesday..
In an interview following NATO’s announcement, Putin said “there is nothing that might concern us in terms of Finland and Sweden becoming NATO members”. However, he also warned the countries Russia would return in kind if NATO deployed troops in their territories.
NATO leaders also announced a significant strengthening of forces along the alliance’s eastern flank, as well as more aid for Ukraine.A Ukrainian government official said the country had just received a grant of $1.3 billion from the U.S., whilethe U.K. pledged another $1.2 billion in military support.
Meanwhile, Ukraine used the timing of the summit to push again for NATO membership. Ihor Zhovkva, the head of Ukraine's delegation at NATO's summit in Madrid,said Ukraine already meets NATO standards and that membership in the alliance remains the best security guarantee for Ukraine. Ukraine dropping plans for NATO membership is one of Vladimir Putin’s demands for a peace deal.
Zelensky Accepts G20 Invitation Under Conditions
President Indonesia Joko Widodo and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has agreed to attend the G20 summit in Bali in November, though with specific conditions. Indonesian leader Joko Widodo has invited Zelensky, after an earlier invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin, in the hopes of offering the diplomatic gathering to address (and halt) the war in Ukraine.
At the joint press briefing marking Widodo’s visit to Ukraine, Zelensky said: “Ukraine’s participation will depend on the security situation in Ukraine and who else might be attending.” It is not clear if the “who else” was a reference to Putin.
The Indonesian President also discussed the importance of Ukraine to the world food supply chain. He added that “all efforts must be made so that Ukraine can return to exporting food again.”
Widodo is set to visit Putin on Thursday with the goal of trying to open dialogue about a possible end to the war. He had also invited Putin to attend G20 and Russia had accepted the invitation back in April. Some countries are however not in favor of Putin attending. The White House has conveyed privately to Indonesia that Russia should be allowed to participate in the summit.
Putin Denies Kremenchuk Mall Attack
Footage of Russian attack on Kremenchuk mall
Russian President Vladimir Putin told state-owned RIA Novosti that he does not consider the Russian missile attack on the Amstor shopping center a terrorist act. "Nobody just fires at fields. The Russian army does not strike any civilian objects. There is no need for this,” Putin declared. “We have all the possibilities to determine what is where, and we achieve these goals with modern high-precision long-range weapons."
Russia’s defense ministry earlier admitted responsibility for a missile strike that destroyed the shopping mall in Kremenchuk but denied reports of civilian casualties. The attack killed more than 20 people and wounded dozens. Many are still missing.
Ukrainian Mayor Of Kherson Arrested
\u201cRussian forces detained Kherson Mayor Ihor Kolykhaiev, his location is unknown, says the press service of the Kherson City Council\u201d— Hromadske Int. (@Hromadske Int.) 1656411026
Ihor Kolykhaiev, the Ukrainian mayor of Kherson, has been arrested. Pro-Russian officials in the occupied city in southern Ukraine confirmed the arrest, just as the region’s Russian-backed administration announced a referendum to join Russia.
The Ukrainian city of Kherson is occupied by the Russian appointed authorities and their goal is to strip it of any Ukrainian associations. Kolykhaiev remained in the city throughout the occupation, but the Russian-backed authorities have now removed him from office.
Speaking about the arrest, Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the military-civilian administration of the Kherson region, said Kolykhaiev had "posed as a benefactor" but "made every effort to ensure that some people continued to believe in the return of neo-Nazism."
Far Right German AFD Leader Founds Pro-Russian Organization
Bundestag deputy from the far-right Alternative for Germany party Yevgeny Schmidt has co-founded the new NGO VADAR, whose goal is to prevent discrimination and isolation of Russian Germans and Russian-speaking fellow citizens in Germany.
In an interview with RIA Novosti, Schmidt said that representatives of VADAR would file lawsuits in case of egregious cases of Russophobia in Germany.
“I was elected authorized to work with Russian Germans,” he said. “A decision was made to create an NGO that would deal with the problem of discrimination against the Russian-speaking population in Germany, provide them with comprehensive support, including legal support.”
Amnesty International: Attack On Mariupol Theater Was “Clear War Crime”
Damaged statues on top of the ruins of the Donetsk Region Russian Drama Theatre.
An extensive investigation by human rights group Amnesty International has concluded that the Russian military attack on the Mariupol drama theater in Ukraine in March was a “clear war crime.” It resulted in the deaths of dozens of people and was carried out despite knowledge that hundreds of civilians, including children, were sheltering there. Mariupol officials initially estimated around 300 dead.
Amnesty's Crisis Response team interviewed many survivors and collected digital evidence, concluding that the attack was almost certainly carried out by Russian fighter aircraft, which dropped two 500 kilogram bombs that struck close to each other and detonated simultaneously.
Largest Prisoner Exchange Of The War
\u201cFootage of the exchange of prisoners of war in Zaporozhye.\u201d— Spriteer (@Spriteer) 1656526808
Ukraine and Russia have coordinated the biggest prisoner swap to date, freeing 144 soldiers, Ukraine's Defense Ministry announced on Telegram. Among those released are 95 Ukrainian troops from the Azovstal plant in Mariupol. Most of the freed soldiers are severely injured. In return, the Donetsk People's Republic also returned 144 soldiers that had been captured by Ukraine.