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A Russian warship tells Ukrainian soldiers to surrender. They profanely refuse

Ukraine's Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova said all of the Ukrainian defenders on Snake Island were killed in an exchange with a Russian warship after they refused to surrender.
Patrick Semansky
/
AP
Ukraine's Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova said all of the Ukrainian defenders on Snake Island were killed in an exchange with a Russian warship after they refused to surrender.

Ukrainian service members guarding a Black Sea island are being heralded for their defiant response to a Russian warship demanding their surrender.

The Ukrainian forces were guarding Zmiinyi Island, or Snake Island as it's known, which lies about 30 miles east of the southern border between Ukraine and Romania on the Black Sea.

"This is a Russian warship," a voice on the recording can be heard saying. "I ask you to lay down your arms and surrender to avoid bloodshed and unnecessary deaths. Otherwise, you will be bombed."

After a few moments, a terse response came from the Ukrainians: "Russian warship. Go f*** yourself."

During a briefing in Washington, D.C., Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova confirmed all 13 of the defenders were killed during the fighting.

"The commendable fighting spirit has been demonstrated yesterday when 13 soldiers were posted on Serpent Island, in the south of Ukraine. They all refused to surrender to the Russian battleship. They were all killed," Markarova said.

Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelenskyy commended the border guards during a speech, announcing they would posthumously be awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine.

"May the memory of those who gave their lives for Ukraine live forever," Zelenskyy said.

A recording of the exchange was first published on the website of the Ukrainian news outlet Ukrayinska Pravda and quickly spread through social media, eventually picked up by news organizations worldwide. Ukrainian and U.S. defense officials confirmed its authenticity to NPR's Tom Bowman.

Russia's defense ministry disputes Ukraine's version of the events, saying that 82 Ukrainian service members voluntarily surrendered, according to the Russian state news agency, TASS. It did not indicate that there were any casualties.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov is quoted as saying that the men who surrendered "are signing written vows to reject military resistance. They will be returned to their families shortly."

Snake Island was once used by the Soviet Union as a radar outpost and has since been the subject of territorial disputes between Ukraine and Romania. An international court ultimately established a maritime boundary in 2009 that gave control of the island to Ukraine.

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