Russian armed forces have withdrawn from the key outpost on Snake Island in the Black Sea as Ukraine port operations could possibly resume.
Snake Island, strategically located south of Ukraine’s major Port of Odessa, was first captured by Russian forces on 24 February. Since the invasion, the blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports has been worsened causing grain prices to soar.
Ukraine and Western countries have blamed Moscow for the global food shortage, alleging that the Russian forces have impeded the export of Ukrainian grain. Russia has denied all accusations.
A recent report from the United Nations (UN) found that the war is suffocating trade and logistics in Ukraine and in the Black Sea region, whilst soaring shipping costs threaten to provoke a crisis in food-import-dependent countries.
The Russian Defence Ministry described the retreat as “a gesture of goodwill” to demonstrate that Moscow will not interfere with UN efforts to organise a humanitarian corridor to resume port operations in the Black Sea and allow for the transport of agricultural products from Ukraine.
Ukraine responded to the claims saying the island has been recaptured on 30 June during an overnight artillery and missile assault against Russian forces.
In a nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also commented on the retreat.
The recovery of Snake Island was significant for the Black Sea situation but “it does not yet guarantee security. It does not yet ensure that the enemy will not come back,” he said.
Andriy Yermak, Zelensky’s Chief of Staff, made the announcement on social channels.