Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Friday that 13 Ukrainian soldiers who died on Thursday defending an island against a Russian Naval vessel would be awarded the title of “Hero of Ukraine.”
According to a purported audio exchange, as the Russians approached Snake Island, also known as Zmiinyi Island, the Russian officer says: “This is a military warship. This is a Russian military warship. I suggest you lay down your weapons and surrender to avoid bloodshed and needless casualties. Otherwise, you will be bombed.”
A Ukrainian soldier responds: “Russian warship, go f*** yourself.”
“On our Zmiinyi Island, defending it to the last, all the border guards died heroically,” Zelensky said. “But [they] did not give up.”
“May the memory of those who gave their lives for Ukraine live forever,” he added.
“Snake Island, also known as Zmiinyi Island, is 30 miles off the coast of Ukraine and less than one-tenth of a square mile in area,” The New York Times reported. “The island grew in importance for Ukraine’s maritime territorial claims after nearby Crimea was seized by Russia in 2014.”
Ukrainian post at Snake Island in the Black Sea told Russian warship to "go fuck yourself" after being told to surrender. The 13 service members were killed pic.twitter.com/2FuKHc04D3
— BNO News (@BNONews) February 24, 2022
During the early morning hours on Thursday, Zelensky said that he would arm anyone who wanted to fight back against the Russians.
“We will give weapons to anyone who wants to defend the country. Be ready to support Ukraine in the squares of our cities,” Zelensky said in a statement. “We will lift sanctions on all citizens of Ukraine who are ready to defend our country as part of territorial defense with weapons in hands.”
Russia pressed deep into Ukraine late on Thursday and into Friday morning as the fighting reached near the outskirts of the country’s capital city of Kyiv. Kyiv was the target of numerous missile attacks throughout the night — which saw a fighter explode in the sky after getting hit.
The Washington Post reported:
An air raid siren went off about 7 a.m. local time and at least one residential building in the capital caught fire after being hit by rocket debris, Kyiv’s mayor said. Multiple explosions were heard earlier in the day. Sirens were also heard in Lviv, in Ukraine’s far west and near NATO’s eastern flank. A senior Ukrainian defense official said Russian forces were near the town of Vorzel, some 20 miles to Kyiv’s northwest.
Biden administration officials told lawmakers late Thursday that they feared the capital would soon fall, with Russian mechanized forces — that had crossed over from Belarus — on its outskirts. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday that he remained in Kyiv, though enemy “sabotage groups” were in the capital.
“Ukrainian defense officials said Friday morning that multiple missile strikes had hit Kyiv, but the targets and the damage inflicted remained unclear,” The New York Times reported.
“They say that civilian objects are not a target for them,” Zelensky said in a televised address. “It is a lie, they do not distinguish in which areas to operate.”