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The Ukrainian soldiers believed to have been killed after telling the Russian Navy to ‘go f***’ themselves while defending Snake Island may actually still be alive, according to Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service.
Earlier this week, audio footage emerged of a conversation that took place between a Russian warship and border guards at Snake Island, which is located in the Black Sea about 30 miles off the southern tip of the Ukrainian mainland.
In the clip, one voice could be heard saying across the radio: "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.”
At the other end, voices could be heard discussing their response, before saying: “This is it.”
The defiant Ukrainians then broadcast back: "Go f*** yourself."
last words for some incredibly brave ukrainians pic.twitter.com/cRYCzGRQtB— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) February 25, 2022
That was believed to be the last anyone heard from the island, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying all 13 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the Russian bombardment on Thursday (24 February).
Zelenskyy also announced that they are to be awarded medals of honour after their heroic defence of the island, which resulted in their death.
Zelenskyy said: "On our Zmiinyi [Snake] Island, defending it to the last, all the border guards died heroically. But did not give up. All of them will be posthumously awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine.”
However, in a recent statement posted on Facebook, the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine said there was a ‘strong’ belief that they may still be alive.
The statement said: “We [have a] strong belief that all Ukrainian defenders of Zmiinyi [Snake] Island may be alive.”
“After receiving information about their possible location, the [border guard service] together with the Armed Forces of Ukraine are conducting work on identifying our soldiers.”
According to the BBC, the official Russian account of the standoff differs 'dramatically'.
The news outlet reports that Moscow said the 82 Ukrainian soldiers on the island surrendered it to them voluntarily and made no mention of carrying out strikes or inflicting casualties.
This attack is just one part of a wider-scale invasion of Ukraine that was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The UK, USA, and European Union have announced a number of sanctions on both Russian money and Russian citizens, although some suggest that these sanctions do not go far enough.
If you would like to donate to the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, which will help provide food, medicines and basic medical supplies, shelter and water to those in Ukraine, click here for more information.