Speed Reads

The legend of Snake Island

How 'Russian warship, go f--k yourself' became Ukraine's 'Remember the Alamo!'

Texas has "Remember the Alamo!" Ukraine now has "Russian warship, go f--k yourself!" — or "Go f--k yourself!" for short.

Those were the final words a group of 13 Ukrainian border guards relayed to a Russian battleship that had ordered them to surrender. The guards were stationed on on Zmiinyi Island (Snake Island), a strategically important rock in the Black Sea.

"On our Zmiinyi Island, defending it to the last, all the border guards died heroically," Zelensky said early Friday. "But [they] did not give up. All of them will be posthumously awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine. May the memory of those who gave their lives for Ukraine live forever."

Ukrainians have evidently run with it.

This meme repurposes the snake-themed 1775 Gadsen Flag, not, say, the Alamo-adjacent Gonzales Flag. But both flags make sense as a Ukrainian rallying symbol: The U.S. eventually won its Revolutionary War against the more powerful British army, and the Texans rallied from their Alamo defeat to win independence from the larger Mexican army. 

Snake Island, a "tiny, rocky landmass — of some 42 acres — lies some 185 miles west of Crimea, to the country's south," The Washington Post notes. "With fewer than 100 inhabitants, the island marks Ukraine's territorial waters — giving it a strategic role within the Black Sea by connecting the shipping corridor to the Ukrainian port cities of Odesa, Mykolaiv, and Kherson."

Like the old Spanish mission in downtown San Antonio, the island is now also more than the sum of its stone.