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Russian forces withdraw from Ukraine’s Snake Island

Snake Island (Alamy/PA)
Snake Island (Alamy/PA)

Russia’s Defence Ministry says it has withdrawn its forces from a Black Sea island near Ukraine’s port of Odesa.

The ministry said it pulled back its forces from Zmiyinyy (Snake) Island on Thursday in what it described as a “goodwill gesture”.

It added that the withdrawal demonstrates that “the Russian Federation wasn’t hampering the United Nations’ efforts to establish a humanitarian corridor for taking agricultural products from the territory of Ukraine”.

Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of blockading Ukrainian ports to prevent the exports of grain, contributing to the global food crisis.

Moscow has denied the accusations and claimed Ukraine needs to remove mines from the Black Sea to allow safe navigation.

Russia took control of the island in the opening days of its military action in Ukraine in an apparent hope to help it to control the area and use it as a staging ground for an attack on Odesa.

Russian forces stationed there have come under relentless Ukrainian attacks.