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Ukraine: 13 soldiers killed defending tiny island from Russia

Image source, Google

Ukraine’s government is to honour a group of soldiers who died while defending one of the country’s islands from Russian forces.

Kyiv says it lost contact with 13 border guards stationed on Zmiinyi (Snake) island after they refused to follow orders from a Russian warship to surrender their weapons.

Ukraine says they were then bombarded by air and sea.

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Russia denies killing anyone and says all troops surrendered.

The tiny island is 142km (88 miles) south of Odessa in the Black Sea.

In unverified audio recordings released by the Ukrainian government, the soldiers can be heard exchanging barbed comments with a Russian warship.

“This is a Russian warship,” one voice says in the clip. “I propose you lay down your weapons and surrender to avoid bloodshed and unnecessary victims. Otherwise you will be bombed”

According to the audio, which has not been independently verified, the Ukrainian soldiers can then be heard speaking amongst themselves agreeing “this is it”.

They then respond: “Russian warship, go to hell.”

According to Ukraine, those were the last words heard from the island before Russia began strikes.

“On our Zmiinyi Island, defending it to the last, all the border guards died heroically,” remarked President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“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 official Russian account of the exchange differs dramatically. Moscow says that the 82 Ukrainian soldiers on the island surrendered it to them voluntarily and makes no mention of carrying out strikes or inflicting casualties.

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