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Tipsheet

Snake Island Border Guards Who Told Russian Warship to 'Go F--k Yourself' May Still Be Alive: Officials

AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka

The 13 Ukrainian border guards on Snake Island who were believed to have been killed after telling a Russian warship to "go f--k yourself" may still be alive, Ukrainian officials say.

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"We [have a] strong belief that all Ukrainian defenders of Zmiinyi (Snake) Island may be alive. The SBGSU and the Armed Forces, like the whole of Ukraine, have received hope that all of Zmiiny's defenders are alive," the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine said in a statement Saturday, adding that Russian media claims the soldiers were captured and transported to Sevastopol on the Russian-controlled Crimea Peninsula but were not killed.

"Preliminary information that border guards may be dead came before the defenders lost contact," the statement continued.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine had both confirmed Thursday that the Ukrainian soldiers were killed after a Russian warship approached the island and demanded they surrender or risk being killed. 

"I am a Russian warship," a Russian aboard the ship told the soldiers on the island. "I ask you to lay down your arms and surrender to avoid bloodshed and unnecessary deaths. Otherwise, you will be bombed."

One Ukrainian soldier responded, "Russian warship, go f--k yourself."

The Ukrainian military then lost communication with the border guards and they were believed to have been killed.

The island's infrastructure was destroyed and is now controlled by the Russian military, according to the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine.

"On our Zmiinyi Island, defending it to the last, all the border guards died heroically," Zelenskyy said. "But [they] did not give up."

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Zelenskyy said each of the guards who died on Snake Island that day would be awarded the title Hero of Ukraine.

"May the memory of those who gave their lives for Ukraine live forever," he said.

The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, however, indicated in their statement that the agents could still be alive.

"As previously reported, on February 24, the aggressor fired from naval weapons and used combat aircraft on border guards and soldiers of the Armed Forces on the island of Zmiiny. According to available information at the time, the infrastructure was destroyed and the island captured," the statement read. "Prior to that, the enemy repeatedly tried in vain to intimidate Ukrainian defenders with demands to surrender and received only one correct answer - no one will surrender."

"We understand that Russian propagandists know how to make the necessary information attacks and use them, noting that Ukrainian defenders have surrendered," it continued. "Border guards and fighters of the Armed Forces bravely defended themselves, especially in the face of the overwhelming means of defeat and enemy forces."

The State Border Guard Service is working with the Armed Forces of Ukraine to identify the soldiers.

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