On Wednesday night, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an all-out invasion on neighboring Ukraine, the fledgling democracy that broke from the U.S.S.R. in 1991.
In the first day of fighting alone, more than 150 Ukrainians died as a result of Russia's attacks by land, air, and sea. Now, group of 13 soldiers defending Zmiinyi Island, also known as Snake Island, is going viral for their heroic and profane response to warnings from a Russian warship.
Located on the Black Sea, the tiny island's proximity to Ukraine's border made it a strategic location for fending off neighboring attacks
On Thursday, a Russian warship approached the island, warning Ukrainian soldiers that it would bomb them if they didn't lay down their weapons and surrender.
The Ukrainian soldiers' response went viral.
Snake Island: Ukrainian soldier tells Russian warship to ‘go f*** yourself’ before bombing www.youtube.com
A voice on the loudspeaker from the Russian warship said:
“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.”
In a chilling moment, a Ukrainian soldier responds on a loudspeaker:
"Russian warship, go f**k yourself."
Their bravery had social media users rapt.
My God what heroes glory to Ukraine
— Louise Mensch 🇺🇸🇺🇦 (@LouiseMensch) February 25, 2022
Better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.
— CrabtreeRoad (@Crabtreeroad) February 24, 2022
— GM 🇺🇦 (@WasOnceLou) February 24, 2022
As one who grew up in Texas, indoctrinated by legends of the deeds of Jim Bowie and Davie Crockett, The power of this gesture, and the subsequent sacrifice of those who made it, cannot be overstated.
Ukraine may have its #Alamo.#IStandWithUkraine
— Henry S. Gibbons (@hsgibbons1) February 25, 2022
Heroes, all the brave Ukrainians on Snake Island. May the memory of their courage last forever.
— JustEvie (@JustEvFL) February 25, 2022
God bless these brave souls.
— Jeff Chabot (@JeffChabot4) February 25, 2022
Despite being heavily outmatched by Russia's formidable military arsenal, Ukrainians around the country have taken up arms against the invasion. Search engine queries in the country for "how to make a molotov cocktail" have skyrocketed. Ukrainian soldiers have, as of now, retaken the crucial Hostomel Airport despite heavy Russian attacks.
Twitter users praised the bravery of the Ukrainian people.
The will of the Ukrainian people will not be broken. When people fight (or in this case defend themselves) for a cause they love, the will to win is inspiring and fuels the people. (American Revolution, American Civil War, WWII, etc) Putin would be wise to remember history.
— Ryan Boroski (@HistoryMrB) February 25, 2022
Heartbreaking, but you can’t help but admire the courage of the Ukrainians.
— Monica (@MariaMonicaR) February 25, 2022
I’m telling you, the world hasn’t given the Ukrainian people credit. They are some bad ass people. They have handled this way better than I think anyone thought they would. They are strong and resilient
— Democracy4Life (@DemocracyNowPlz) February 25, 2022
UPDATE, 02/28: An earlier version of this article echoed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's announcement that the 13 soldiers defending Snake Island "died heroically." The Ukrainian Navy, however, recently announced that all soldiers are "alive and well" but remain in Russian captivity.