While Russia continues escalating its attacks in Ukraine, many Ukrainians have stood firm in the face of adversity to defend their country.
On 24 Feb, Ukrainian border guards who refused to surrender Snake Island told a Russian warship to “go f*ck yourself”.
All 13 soldiers were then believed to have died defending the island and hailed as heroes.
On 26 Feb, many’s hopes were renewed when Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service (SBGS) shared on Facebook that they strongly believe all the soldiers are still alive.
The SBGS and Armed Forces of Ukraine are now working to identify the soldiers and bring them home safely.
On 24 Feb, the first day of Russia’s attacks on Ukraine, Ukrainian soldiers on Snake Island came head to head with a Russian warship.
The Russians asked the Ukrainian soldiers to lay their arms down and surrender.
However, the 13 Ukrainian soldiers stood their ground and were heard telling them to “go f*ck yourself”.
It was later reported that all 13 died refusing to surrender the island.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy lauded the border guards as heroes, saying they had shown courage and did not give up.
He shared that each soldier will be awarded the title ‘Hero of Ukraine’ posthumously.
In a turn of events, on Saturday (26 Feb), Ukraine’s SBGS said in a Facebook statement that they strongly believe the Ukrainian border guards may be alive.
They added that Russian media reported that the Ukrainian soldiers were sent to Sevastopol, Crimea after Russia occupied Snake Island.
The SBGS said the soldiers were under attack from Russian naval weapons and combat aircraft on 24 Feb. Preliminary information that the soldiers had died came before they lost contact.
With information on the soldiers’ probable location, the SBGS and the Ukraine Armed Forces are working to identify the soldiers, hoping that they will return home soon.
On Friday (25 Feb), the Russian Defence Ministry released their own statement, claiming the Ukrainian soldiers on Snake Island are still alive.
82 Ukrainian soldiers were said to have ‘voluntarily’ surrendered to Russian forces. The Daily Mail reported that Russia also released photos purportedly of Ukrainian soldiers being sent to Sevastopol.
The pictures showed them boarding buses and being given bottled water and food.
In addition, Russia said the soldiers would be released and allowed to return to their families.
However, the authenticity of the information and photos is uncertain, and many remain sceptical of this development.
Many doubts remain with the information still unverifiable and the uncanny timeliness of Russia’s announcement that the soldiers are alive after being hailed as heroes.
As Ukraine works to identify the soldiers, we hope the truth of the soldiers’ whereabouts will be revealed, and they can be brought to safety.
Russia and Ukraine are due for talks at the Belarus border on Monday (28 Feb). Hopefully, this will see the conflict come to a peaceful end in time to come.
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