Ukrainian forces have raised the country’s flag on Snake Island, a strategic and symbolic outpost in the Black Sea that Russian troops retreated from last week after months of heavy bombardment.
“The military operation has been concluded, and … the territory, Snake Island, has been returned to the jurisdiction of Ukraine,” Natalia Humeniuk, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern military command, told reporters.
Ukraine has considered control of the island as a critical step in loosening Moscow’s blockade on its southern ports.
However, it was not clear if Ukrainian troops would seek to re-establish a permanent presence there, as it is dangerously exposed to bombardment.
On Sunday, a military official told the Guardian the area of the Black Sea around Snake Island was still a “grey zone”, meaning that, technically, the Ukrainians did not intend to bring their forces back.
Snake Island became known internationally when Russia first captured it in February.