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Ukraine's Zelensky visits Snake Island on 500th day of full-scale war

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky lays flowers at a memorial for the Zmiinyi Island (Snake Island) defenders in an official photo issued Saturday, marking the 500 days since the beginning of the Russian invasion. Photo by Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/EPA-EFE
1 of 3 | Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky lays flowers at a memorial for the Zmiinyi Island (Snake Island) defenders in an official photo issued Saturday, marking the 500 days since the beginning of the Russian invasion. Photo by Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/EPA-EFE

July 8 (UPI) -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Ostrov Zmiinyi, known as Snake Island, Saturday to mark the 500th day of Russia's full-scale invasion.

The Island, a symbol of Ukrainian resistance to Russian aggression, was occupied by Russian forces in February 2022 in the first days of the invasion. By the end of June 2022, the Ukrainian government said Russians had been pushed off the island.

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"Today, we are on Snake Island, our Snake Island, which will never be conquered by the occupier, like the whole of Ukraine because we are a country of the brave," Zelensky said.

Snake Island was the site of a dramatic confrontation with the Russian Black Sea Fleet flagship Moskva on the first day of the invasion.

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The Moskva's crew told the island's Ukrainian defenders, "I suggest you lay down your weapons and surrender to avoid bloodshed and needless casualties. Otherwise you will be bombed."

The Ukrainian military personnel on the island responded with an expletive which has become a slogan of Ukrainian resistance.

The Ukrainian soldiers on the Island were captured and then released in March 2022. The Moskva was sunk by Ukrainian missiles in April 2022.

"Today, we honored here our Ukrainian heroes -- all the soldiers who fought for this island, who liberated it," Zelensky said. "And although this is a small piece of land in the middle of the Black Sea, it is a great proof that Ukraine will regain every bit of its territory."

In footage posted to Facebook and Twitter, Zelensky can be seen approaching the island on a boat and laying flowers.

"Let the freedom that all our heroes of different times wanted for Ukraine and that must be won right now be a tribute to all those who gave their lives for Ukraine. We will definitely win, for sure! Glory to Ukraine," the president said.

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