Ukraine delivers flag back to Snake Island after Russian withdrawal


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Ukrainian flag has been dropped by helicopter on Snake Island after Russian forces withdrew from the outpost, authorities said.

The island, in the Black Sea, has been returned to the jurisdiction of Ukraine and the military operation concluded, Ukraine’s southern military command told a news conference.

Spokesperson Natalia Humeniuk had initially said the flag had already been raised on the craggy outcropping.

But she has since told CNN television that the flag was been delivered to the island via helicopter and will be hoisted when troops arrive.

Homeniuk said her original remarks to reporters should be viewed “metaphorically”.

Snake Island handout from Ukraine Operational Command South

/ via REUTERS

Some analysts have said Russia’s withdrawal from Snake Island off Ukraine’s southwestern coast could loosen its blockade on Ukrainian ports.

But a Kyiv-based foreign diplomat told Reuters it was still not enough to allow for safe transit of Ukrainian grain.

“There is a requirement for demining, and Russia still has capabilities (military vessels, coastal defence systems and air superiority) that will allow them to interdict shipping lanes,” the diplomat said.

To unblock its ports so it can ship grain, Ukraine would need allied support and for Turkey to play a key role, the diplomat added.

Russia said it had pulled out from Snake Island on Thursday as a “gesture of goodwill” to show it was not obstructing United Nations attempts to open a humanitarian corridor allowing grain to be shipped from Ukraine.

Ukraine said it had driven the Russian forces out after an artillery and missile assault.

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.

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