Russian forces withdraw from Black Sea's strategic Snake Island


FILE PHOTO: A satellite image shows an overview of Snake Island, Ukraine, June 21, 2022. Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS

KYIV (Reuters) -Russian forces have withdrawn from Ukraine's Snake Island, a strategic outpost in the Black Sea, Russia's defence ministry and Ukraine's president's office said on Thursday.

"KABOOM! No Russian troops on the Snake Island anymore. Our Armed Forces did a great job," Andriy Yermak, head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's office, wrote on Twitter.

Russia's defence ministry confirmed Russian troops had withdrawn from Snake Island, calling it a "goodwill gesture" and saying the troops had fulfilled the tasks assigned to them.

The Russian ministry added the move showed Russia was not impeding U.N. efforts to organise a humanitarian corridor to export agricultural products out of Ukraine.

Snake Island, which Russia occupied on the first day of its invasion, achieved fame when Ukrainian border guards stationed there rejected a Russian warship's demand for their surrender.

Ukraine's southern military command wrote on Facebook that following a successful operation involving missile and artillery units, Russian forces had evacuated from Snake Island in two boats.

Reuters was not immediately able to verify the Ukrainian and Russian accounts.

(Reporting by Max HunderWriting by Alexander WinningEditing by Toby Chopra and Nick Macfie)

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