While the Russian forces have withdrawn from Snake Island in the Black Sea, it may be “too early” for Ukraine to establish an outpost there, said the spokesperson for the Ukrainian Military’s Southern Command, Natalia Humenyuk.
Humenyuk reported the island remains engulfed in heavy smoke as explosions continue. Although the Ukrainian military saw Russian troops evacuate using speedboats, Humenyuk said investigation needs to take place into possible “diversion tools left behind” before claiming back the island.
“Our forces haven’t landed on the island yet,” she added clarifying it is not clear if Russian troops withdrew completely. “We cannot state that they all withdrew. But we hope that they had enough sense to do that."
Humenyuk suggested the Russian military set anti-air missile systems and radar station on fire “to cover their tracks.”
“As soon as they understood all these systems were being targeted by us effectively and could not serve them anymore, they realized they had to fold their outpost and get out," she added. “We have to monitor their behavior in terms of their ship groupings and the use of other forces. It is too early for us to form an outpost on the Snake island. We have to finish the investigation into the result of the military operation."
Russian military command justified their withdrawal from the island on Thursday “as a gesture of goodwill.”
An islet off the Ukrainian coast near Odesa, Snake Island had been captured by the Russian Navy in the early day of the war in February. An important outpost for marking Ukrainian territorial waters, it has become the symbol of Ukrainian resistance against Russian occupation.
Read more about Russian withdrawal from Snake Island here.