The Ukrainian soldiers who became heroes for their defiance of Russian forces on Snake Island may be alive, Ukrainian officials said over the weekend.
“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 wrote in a statement on Saturday. “Currently, after receiving information about their probable location, the SBGS together with the Armed Forces is working to identify our soldiers, which is common in open networks. We sincerely hope that the boys will return home as soon as possible, and the information received at the time of the attack on the death will not be confirmed.”
The 13 soldiers were previously thought to have been killed defending Zmiiny Island, aka Snake Island, located 88 miles south of Odessa in the Black Sea. Following the confrontation, a viral audio clip revealed their brave words.
“This is a Russian warship,” a voice says in the audio clip, which was verified by The Washington Post. “I propose you lay down your weapons and surrender to avoid bloodshed and unnecessary victims, or you will be bombed.” (You can hear the audio recording on YouTube.)
The Ukrainian soldiers can then be heard agreeing with each other, saying “This is it.” So, they replied bravely, before the Russians opened fire: “Russian warship, go f— yourself.”
“On our Zmiinyi Island, defending it to the last, all the border guards died heroically,” he said. “But they did not give up. All of them will be posthumously awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine. Eternal memory to those who gave their lives for Ukraine.”
The Hero of Ukraine medal is the highest honor that Zelensky can award, according to a Ukrainian official.
The soldiers were also celebrated across social media for their bravery.
“I truly hope that I can have a fraction of the bravery of the 13 Ukrainian soldiers who told a Russian warship to ‘go f— itself’ even though they knew what would happen next. May their memory be for a blessing,” Renew Democracy Initiative Director Uriel Epshtein wrote in a tweet that has over 110,000 likes.
Another user called the guards’ final message “the single most brave, badass, amazing thing I’ve ever heard.”