Ukraine’s army on Thursday hailed the withdrawal of Russian forces from the Black Sea’s Snake Island, which was captured in the first days of Russia’s invasion.
“I thank the defenders of Odessa region who took maximum measures to liberate a strategically important part of our territory,” Valeriy Zaluzhny, the Ukraine military’s commander-in-chief, said on Telegram.
“Unable to withstand the fire of our artillery, missile and air strikes, the occupiers left Snake Island,” Zaluzhny said.
Moscow had said earlier it was leaving the island as a “goodwill gesture”, to allow Kyiv to ship agricultural products from Ukraine.
“So, in order for Russia to show its goodwill, we have to beat it up regularly,” Ukrainian presidential aide Mikhaylo Podolyak said on Twitter.
Ukraine has accused Russia of stealing its grain, contributing to a global food shortage caused by grain exports blocked in Ukrainian ports.
Snake Island became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance after a radio exchange went viral at the start of the war, in which Ukrainian soldiers used an expletive in rebuffing a demand by a Russian warship to surrender.