Battle of Snake Island
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Battle of Snake Island refers to an event that took place during the first stages of the Russia-Ukraine conflict in late February 2022 where Ukrainian soldiers were defending a small island in the Black Sea called Snake Island, resulting in 13 of them reportedly dying in battle. The first moments of the attack were documented in a livestream from one of the soldiers on the island, whose video quickly spread to YouTube and Reddit alongside the audio between the two groups of soldiers. Memes about the Battle of Snake Island centered on the heroic nature of the soldiers for defending such a small island solely based on pride for their nation, particularly due to their response to the Russian warship. The memes were similar in nature to the ones made about the Ghost of Kyiv at the same time. Additionally, many meme creators called the soldiers the "Snake Island Chads." Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy later awarded each of the soldiers with the posthumous title "Hero of Ukraine," the country's highest military honor. Days later on February 28th, the Ukrainian navy confirmed none of the soldiers on Snake Island died.
On February 24th, 2022, a small group of 13 Ukrainian soldiers was stationed on the small isle of Snake Island, located in the Black Sea. The island's location was strategic in nature, so much so that the Russian military decided to launch a military effort to take it over as they invaded Ukraine. The small group of 13 soldiers were met with Russian warships, who gave them an ultimatum to surrender, quoted in a viral audio clip saying, "I suggest you lay down your weapons and surrender to avoid bloodshed and needless casualties. Otherwise, you will be bombed." The defiant Ukrainian soldiers simply responded with, "Russian warship, go fuck yourself," prompting a naval and air bombardment that destroyed all infrastructure on the island from the Russians, killing all 13 soldiers. The entire event and conversation was documented in a video made accessible by the YouTube page WarLeaks – Military Blog, who posted the video on February 24th and earned roughly 894,400 views in less than 24 hours (shown below, left).
Additionally, a screen-recording was taken by one of the soldiers on the island who briefly started a livestream to document what was going on. However, it only lasted seven seconds as the first bombardment began, causing him to shout an expletive and end the stream abruptly. The Snake Island livestream video was posted to YouTube on the same day by the channel Shanghai Media, earning roughly 12,000 views in less than 24 hours (shown above, right).
Recognition from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
As the Ukrainian soldiers and their defiant last words of "Russian warship, go fuck yourself" trended online the day of the attack, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced on February 24th, 2022, that all 13 soldiers would be posthumously awarded the title of "Hero of Ukraine," the country's highest military honor.
News of the Snake Island event started to spread to other platforms going into the remainder of February 24th, 2022. For instance, Redditor oh_hi_mark_31 posted about the development to /r/ukraine, earning roughly 6,500 upvotes in less than 24 hours. Additionally, the footage of the soldier's livestream made its way to /r/CombatFootage, posted by Redditor SpudsTheBinky who earned roughly 9,700 upvotes for the post in less than 24 hours.
The audio was also spread to Twitter in numerous reposts, such as one from user WuTangKids on February 24th, receiving over 800 likes and 250 retweets in roughly 24 hours (seen below).
The Ukrainian defenders of Snake Island died as heroes 🙏 #StandWithUkraine pic.twitter.com/b114AiUwoh https://t.co/TnigwvlNrv
— Wu-Tang Is For The Children (@WUTangKids) February 25, 2022
Battle of Snake Island Memes
Memes started to be made on Reddit, among other platforms, going into the next day as users celebrated the heroic defiance of the soldiers on Snake Island. For instance, on February 24th, 2022, Redditor DelphisFinn posted a meme to /r/dankmemes, captioning an image of Snake Island with top and bottom Impact font captions reading, "Russian Warship / Go Fuck Yourself" in reference to the quote, earning roughly 4,700 upvotes in less than a day (shown below, left). Early in the morning of February 25th, Redditor chigcht posted a meme to /r/dankmemes that used Wojak characters like Yes Chad and masked Crying Wojaks to represent the Ukrainian soldiers and the Russian soldiers accordingly. The meme (shown below, right) earned roughly 12,600 upvotes in less than 24 hours.
More memes using the Yes Chad template surfaced on Reddit, like one from Redditor Zombarney posted to /r/dankmemes on February 25th, earning roughly 3,700 likes in less than 24 hours (shown below, left). A parallel meme was posted to Twitter on the 25th by Twitter user theMemesBot, earning over 500 likes in the same amount of time (shown below, right).
Ghost of Kyiv and Snake Island Memes
Another common reaction that started to manifest itself in memes was referencing both the Ghost of Kyiv and Battle of Snake Island in the same image. Many of these memes referenced video game companies, who meme creators believed would exploit both narratives in their probable World War III themed video games of the future. On February 25th, 2022, Redditor PharaoPamela made a post to /r/dankmemes that used a Kermit the Frog Thinking template and joked about the band Sabaton, earning roughly 1,500 upvotes in less than 24 hours (shown below, left).
An hour later, Redditor BraidShadowLegendsAD posted a similar meme to /r/Memes featuring a SpongeBob template and referencing the company Activision, known for their war-themed video game series Call of Duty. In turn, BraidShadowLegendsAD's meme (shown below, right) earned roughly 4,200 likes in the same amount of time.
Snake Island Soldiers Still Alive
On February 25th, 2022, BBC News reported that the Russian government released a statement regarding the soldiers allegedly killed on Snake Island stating that there were in fact 82 Ukrainian soldiers on the island who surrendered it to them voluntarily and made no mention of carrying out strikes or inflicting casualties. The soldiers then became prisoners of war (POWs), taken into custody by the Russian army. Three days later, on February 28th, 2022, the official Facebook page of the Ukrainian navy made a post that confirmed none of the soldiers on Snake Island had died, earning roughly 4,300 reactions in less than 24 hours (shown below).
 Reddit – /r/ukraine
 Reddit – /r/CombatFootage
 Reddit – /r/dankmemes
 Reddit – /r/dankmemes
 Reddit – /r/dankmemes/
 Twitter – @theMemesBot
 Reddit – r/dankmemes
fn9, NYT – Ukraine Troops Snake Island
 BBC – Snake Island
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Feb 25, 2022 at 03:16PM EST in reply to
Feb 25, 2022 at 03:31PM EST
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