‘Russia warship, go f**k yourself’ hero returns home in special Ukraine prisoners swap

Ukrainian service member honoured for Snake Island

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Roman Gribov, a Ukrainian soldier, has been honoured with a military medal in recognition of his brave act of defiance.  Initially reported dead following a Russian attack on Snake Island, information later emerged that a group of Ukrainian defending forces had survived and were being held prisoner, Gribov among them. As part of a successful exchange agreement, Russia exchanged prisoners with Ukraine, releasing 19 Ukrainian service members for 11 Russian soldiers.

Governor of Cherkasy Ihor Taburets recognised the courage of Gribov in the face of invasion and honoured his life-risking defiant words by presenting the award.

The Governor said: “I know your face, I am very glad. You truly deserve this award for your achievements in the Cherkasy region.”

A small group of 13 Ukrainian soldiers, including Gribov, had been defending Snake Island, an area in the Black Sea when Russian forces attacked. 

Gribov rose to fame after a recording of his explicit refusals of surrender to a Russian warship invaded emerged, in which he urged the enemy ship to “go f**k yourself.”

Speaking of Gribov’s actions, Mr Taburets said: “You are a dear person for us – just like other defenders who protect our motherland.”

Mr Taburets celebrated the return of Gribov as a moment “towards the victory” of Ukraine.

Gribov said: “The truth and the strength are with us. We will win this together”.

His explicit refusal to surrender under threat of Russian attack has been the subject of much media coverage and has become an iconic moment in the invasion.

He expressed confidence in the continuing Ukrainian military efforts, saying “Glory to Ukraine!” after receiving his commendation.

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On February 24, the first day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a warship self-identifying as Russian forces approached Snake Island.

The Russian warship announced: “I propose you lay down your arms immediately to avoid bloodshed and unjustified deaths”. 

In a clear threat to the Ukrainian soldiers stationed on the island, the warship declared refusal to follow Russian demands would mean the area “will be bombed”.

Refusing to surrender, Gribov boldly responded: “Russian warship, go f**k yourself”.

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Gribov has only recently returned to his home of Cherkasy, after his capture by Russian forces

Following the soldier’s refusal to surrender, the island was subjected to violent Russian bombing and reports emerged that all Ukrainian servicemen in the area had been killed.

As the situation developed, information emerged that a group of defending Ukrainian soldiers had survived and were held as prisoners.

In a monumental moment of the war, the small group of Ukrainian service members were returned home as part of a successful prisoner exchange agreement.

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