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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday hailed the 13 Ukrainian border guards who were killed after refusing to surrender to a Russian warship, telling the Russians to “go f— yourself.”
The guards will posthumously receive the “Hero of Ukraine,” the highest honor Ukraine can bestow, Zelenskyy said.
The border guards, stationed on Snake Island, also known as Zmiinyi Island, were told by the Russians, “I am a Russian warship. I ask you to lay down your arms and surrender to avoid bloodshed and unnecessary deaths. Otherwise, you will be bombed.”
“Russian warship, go f— yourself,” came the reply.
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The Russians opened fire and all 13 were killed. Audio of the incident has gone viral on social media.
“On our Zmiinyi Island, defending it to the last, all the border guards died heroically,” Zelenskyy said.
The Russians, however, officially claimed that there were 82 Ukrainian soldiers on the island who surrendered voluntarily without bloodshed, according to the BBC.
Snake Island sits around 30 miles off the coast of Ukraine and is less than 0.1 square mile in area, according to Axios. Despite its remote location and minuscule size, the island helped to connect a shipping corridor to multiple Ukrainian cities.
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By Friday night, Russian troops had moved on to Kyiv, the capital, where explosions could be heard and seen in the darkness. Zelenskyy said he intended to stay in the capital. He said Friday that the “fate of Ukraine is being decided now.”
Fox News’ Peter Aitken contributed to this report.