The raising of the Ukrainian flag on Snake Island in the Black Sea was a sign that Ukraine would not be broken, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Thursday, shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a stark warning to the West that any effort to bring him down will bring Ukraine tragedy.
More than four months into the war, Putin stressed in a hawkish speech to parliamentary leaders that Russia had barely gotten started in Ukraine and warned that the longer the conflict dragged on, the prospects for negotiation and peace talks would grow dimmer.
Insisting that Moscow is still open to the idea of peace talks, he has nevertheless dared the West to try to defeat it on the battlefield.
Putin underscored with a dose of irony that the West wants to fight Moscow to the last Ukrainian. noting that it seems like everything is heading towards a tragedy for the Ukrainian people.
Zelenskyy responded to Putin’s address with defiance in his nightly video message, pointing out that the two-month operation to retake Snake Island was a warning to all Russian forces, to every Russian captain, aboard a ship or a plane, that Ukraine will not be broken.
After Ukrainian soldiers raised its blue-and-yellow flag on the recaptured Snake Island on Thursday, Russia responded with an airstrike that destroyed part of the Ukrainian detachment there.
A speck south of the port of Odesa, the strategic Black Sea outpost of Snake Island, has become a symbol of Ukrainian determination after the small Ukrainian garrison on the island was hit by an air strike in February after it swore at their Russian attackers when ordered to surrender.
In a gesture of goodwill, as Moscow stressed at the time, Russian troops abandoned the island at the end of June, a move that Kyiv called a victory for Ukraine that would hopefully loosen Moscow’s blockade of Ukrainian ports.