Ukraine hoisted its blue-and-yellow flag on Snake Island in the Black Sea on Thursday in a show of defiance against Russia, but Moscow quickly responded with an attack that destroyed part of the Ukrainian outpost there.
Control of the island, located about 140 kilometers south of the Ukrainian port of Odesa, has been disputed since Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine more than four months ago.
In the early days of the war, Russia shelled the island after Ukrainian soldiers responded with a vulgarity when crewmen on the Moskva warship demanded they surrender. Ukraine issued a commemorative stamp celebrating the soldiers’ defiance.
Russia had controlled the island for much of the war, until Ukraine captured it in the last week, although Russia contended it had withdrawn in a gesture of goodwill.
Ukrainian soldiers raised the blue and yellow national flag on a patch of ground next to the remains of a flattened building on Thursday.
Andriy Yermak, the Ukrainian president's chief of staff, suggested the moment was one that would be repeated across Ukraine in the coming months.
"The flag of Ukraine is on Snake Island,” he wrote on Telegram. “Ahead of us are many more such videos from Ukrainian cities that are currently under temporary occupation.”
But Odesa regional administration spokesman Serhiy Bratchuk said Russia's missile strike on the island's new residents had caused significant damage to its dock.
Zelenskyy hails Western weaponry
In his nightly address Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the artillery his forces have received from Western allies has “started working powerfully,” helping to disrupt Russia’s military.
“Its accuracy is exactly as needed,” Zelenskyy said. “Our defenders inflict very noticeable strikes on depots and other spots that are important for the logistics of the occupiers and this significantly reduces the offensive potential of the Russian army.”
He also pledged to regain control of all of Ukraine’s territory, as Russia pushes to capture the Donbas region in the eastern part of the country.
“We are fighting for our entire south, for the entire Ukrainian Donbas — the most brutal confrontation is currently there, near Slovyansk and Bakhmut,” Zelenskyy said. “We are fighting for the Kharkiv region. The occupiers should not think that their time on this land is long-lasting and that the superiority of their artillery is eternal.”