Remember the Ukrainian soldiers of Snake Island, who were initially reported to have died after telling a Russian warship to “Go f*** yourself”? Now, new reports by the Ukrainian Navy have confirmed that the island defenders are actually “alive and well.”

Last week, an audio exchange emerged between the Ukrainian troops — stationed on the Snake Island in the Black Sea — and a Russian Warship Moskva and patrol ship Vasily Bykov. While the Russian vessel warned the troops to lay down their weapons or face bombing, the soldiers defiantly replied with a single message: “Russian warship, go f*** yourself.”

After the audio transmission went viral, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed last Thursday that 13 soldiers stationed on Snake Island died “heroically” due to Russian bombardment. And would “posthumously be awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine.”

The Snake Island

However, a statement released by the Ukrainian Navy on Monday confirmed that this was certainly not the case. According to the navy, the soldiers were able to repel not one, but two attacks by Russian forces at the beginning. However, they were soon forced to surrender due to a lack of ammunition. 

“We sincerely hope that the boys will return home as soon as possible, and the information received at the time of the attack on the death is not confirmed,” the statement read.

The Snake Island

The Snake Island, while small in size (about 46 acres) holds the key to Ukraine’s maritime territorial claims in the Black Sea. To highlight its strategic importance last year, President Zelenskyy even held an interview with Ukrainian media, ahead of a summit that was aimed at reversing Russia’s annexation of Crimea. 

In the same statement, the Ukrainian Navy has confirmed that the Russian attackers have destroyed the island’s infrastructure, including communication towers, antennas and lighthouses. 

The navy also added that after the broadcast, a civilian ship had gone to the island in the hopes of rescuing the soldiers. However, it was soon captured by the Russians. The Ukrainian navy has demanded the release of both the citizens and the soldiers.