In a statement on Sunday, the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine (SBGSU) publicized claims that the 13 Ukrainian border guards, who were reportedly killed while defending a tiny Black Sea island and defiantly yelling at a Russian warship to “Go f–k yourself,” may have survived the war atrocities.

“We [have a] strong belief that all Ukrainian defenders of Zmiinyi (Snake) Island may be alive,” the SBGSU statement reads. “Preliminary information that border guards may be dead came before the defenders lost contact.”

Last week, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and SBGSU both confirmed that the Ukrainian border guards, who refused to surrender their post on Snake Island, were wiped out two days ago. The announcement subsequently caused the story of the fallen soldiers to make headlines across the globe.

There is now renewed hope that the men are still alive after Russian media reported that the group had been seized and ferried to Sevastopol on the Russian-controlled Crimea Peninsula.

Russian Major General Igor Konashenkov claimed 82 Ukrainian servicemen “laid down their arms and voluntarily surrendered to a unit of the Russian Armed Forces,” in a statement on Friday per the New York Post. The information has not been confirmed, according to SBGSU officials.

“After receiving information about their possible location, the DPSU, together with the Armed Forces of Ukraine, are conducting work on identifying our soldiers,” officials said. “We sincerely hope that the boys will return home as soon as possible.”

On Thursday, just a couple of hours after Russia launched its full-scale invasion into Ukraine, two Russian ships hovered over the Ukrainian island.

According to the audio of the exchange, the Russians identified themselves as a “Russian warship” and demanded the Ukrainians to surrender or they would open fire, according to Al Jazeera.

“This is a Russian warship, I repeat. I suggest you surrender your weapons and capitulate. Otherwise, I will open fire. Do you copy?” the Russians can be heard instructing the border guards, to which a member of the Ukrainian troop reportedly spitted out with, “Russian warship, go f–k yourself.”

Shots were later fired on the 42-acre island with barreled gunships and airstrikes following the alleged scoffing before all communications with the guards were lost. The violent exchange resulted in the wreckage of the island’s infrastructure as the Russian military took over.

On Thursday, Zelensky paid tribute to the 13 border guards and announced the soldiers would receive a posthumous Hero of Ukraine medal for “heroically” fending the island.

“On our Zmiinyi Island, defending it to the last, all the border guards died heroically,” he said per the Business Insider. “But [they] did not give up.”

Russian ship
A Russian navy vessel was spotted sailing past the city of Istanbul on Feb. 9. Getty Images

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