RUSSIA has abandoned the infamous Snake Island in an embarrassing step back for Putin's troops.
The retreat comes just days after the strategic outpost in the Black Sea sustained bombardment from Ukrainian forces.
Despite Russia seizing control of the island at the start of the war, a massive attack launched by Ukraine in the last week caused “significant losses” to the Russian army.
Ukrainians bombarded the enemy positions with rockets, missiles and drones with commanders saying they launched an “intense strike by various forces and methods of destruction”.
And just a few days later Russia was forced to retreat in a devastating blow to Vladimir Putin's war- an act that was branded " a gesture of goodwill".
The Russian defence ministry was quoted as saying: “As a gesture of goodwill, the Russian military completed their tasks on Zmeiny [Snake] Island and withdrew the garrison stationed there.”
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A pro-Russian war reporter nicknamed Vladlen Tatarsky confirmed: "After a heroic fight, our troops have left Snake island.”
Ukraine’s southern military command said: “During the night, as a result of a successful military operation with our missile and artillery units on Snake Island, the enemy hastily evacuated the remnants of the garrison in two speedboats and probably left the island.”
A picture showed that “currently Snake Island is covered with fire, and explosions are heard.”
The statement added: “The final results of the operation are being investigated."
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Ukraine mocked Russia's "shameful flight from Snake island” being labelled a “gesture of goodwill”.
The Head of President's Zelensy Office, Andriy Yermak, tweeted: "KABOOM! No Russian troops on the Snake Island anymore.
"Our Armed Forces did a great job."
The strategic island has been in dispute since the first day of the war when Russian flagship Moskva told Ukrainian guards to surrender and they famously replied: “Go f*** yourself.”
The Moskva was later sunk in a Ukrainian missile strike, perhaps Vladimir Putin's biggest single humiliation of the war.
The withdrawal comes as last week Ukraine blitzed a Russian garrison on the island just days after sinking a supply boat laden with missiles and reinforcements.
Previously satellite images were said to show a hit on a Russian Pantsir-S1 missile defence system.
Russian Military Informer Telegram channel warned that Ukraine’s reach with longer range and more powerful weapons was a threat to Putin's hold on the island.
“Judging by satellite images, as a result of several Ukrainian attacks on Russian positions on Snake Island, unfortunately, one Pantsir-S1 missile defence system was irretrievably lost,” said the channel.
“The rest of the [Pantsir-S1 missile defence system] vehicles are forced to constantly change their positions in order not to be hit.”
The channel posted: “The loss of only one anti-aircraft missile and cannon complex under constant shelling may indicate that the garrison of the island has so far successfully repelled raids on its positions.
“But it is unknown how long this can continue in the conditions of the increasing fire capability of the Ukrainian armed forces.”
Earlier this week Ukraine claimed more than ten pinpoint strikes on Russian positions on the island.
A video showed the attacks on the island.
At the time, Ukrainians claimed to have hit a Pantsir-S1 target.
Meanwhile, the Russian retreat from Snake Island may be a step towards allowing Ukrainian grain to reach world markets.
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Russian military spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the island withdrawal "demonstrated to the world community that the Russian Federation does not prevent the efforts of the UN to organise a humanitarian corridor for the export of agricultural products from the territory of Ukraine".
There were also claims that Turkey had been involved in negotiating with Ukraine and Russia over grain exports.
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