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Border guards believed to have been killed defending tiny Snake Island in the Black Sea during the Russian invasion are alive and well and being held as prisoners, according to the Ukrainian Navy.
Naval officials said the Ukrainian soldiers on the island repelled two attacks by Russian forces but in the end were forced to surrender “due to the lack of ammunition” .
Ukraine lost contact with its forces on Zmiinyi Island — Snake Island — a speck of land south of the port of Odessa, on Thursday, after Russia conducted strikes from air and sea.
The Ukrainian Navy said that a civilian ship had gone to the island to assist the border guards after the attack but had been captured by the Russians. Officials demanded the release of all Ukrainian citizens.
“In turn, the invaders ‘forgot’ to report that they had completely destroyed the island's infrastructure. Accordingly, the connection was interrupted,” naval officials said.
Naval officials said repeated attempts to contact the border guards had been unsuccessful, adding that shelling by Russian warships and attacks by fighter jets hampered efforts by Ukrainian marines to reach them.
Last Thursday, a Ukrainian official said 13 soldiers had been killed and circulated an audio clip that he and media outlet Ukrainskaya Pravda said was an exchange between Ukrainian and Russian forces.
“This is a Russian warship. I propose you lay down your weapons and surrender to avoid bloodshed and unnecessary victims. Otherwise, you will be bombed,” the Russians told the Ukrainians on the island.
The Ukrainians then responded for the Russian warship to leave, using an expletive.