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How Snake Island got its flag: Twitter repurposes the Gadsden amid Ukraine conflict

Shania Wilson February 25, 2022
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Conflict between Ukraine and Russia continues to grow and, in latest developments, 13 Ukrainian border guards have been credited with some defiant last words.

Guarding Snake Island, a tiny, rocky landmass in the Black Sea, 13 Ukrainians on the border told a Russian warship to “go f**k” itself, the Daily Beast reports.

As news of the invasion broke, Twitter users repurposed the Gadsden flag, creating a new Snake Island flag – you can guess what it reads.

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Snake Island conflict explained

Stationed on a tiny island, known as Snake Island, in the Black Sea, 13 Ukrainian border guards are now considered “national heroes” after they refused to surrender.

As reported by CNN, an audio clip allegedly captures the moment the Russian navy asked the border guards to lay down their weapons. A voice is heard saying: “This is a Russian military warship. I suggest you lay down your weapons and surrender to avoid bloodshed and needless casualties. Otherwise you will be bombed.”

In response, the Ukrainian guards retort: “Russian warship, go f**k yourself.”

Ukrainian and Russian news outlets reported the 13 guards had been killed in action, with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky announcing all would be honoured as heroes of Ukraine.

Zelensky said: “On our Zmiinyi Island, defending it to the last, all the border guards died heroically. 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.”

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Twitter users repurpose Gadsden flag

Since news broke of the death of the Ukrainian guards, some Twitter users have repurposed the snake-themed 1775 Gadsden Flag, creating a flag for Snake Island.

The Gadsden Flag is a historic expression of American patriotism, now used in looser terms to represent personal freedom.The flag first came about during the American revolution, when it was flown on a warship.

The Snake Island version features the colours of Ukraine, with the words “go f**k yourself” written in Cyrillic characters. Historically, the Gadsden flag is yellow while the text reads “Don’t Tread On Me”.

The Snake Island flag has made its way around social media, with many sharing the repurposed image or variations.

One person tweeted the flag, writing: “This meme has been doing the rounds. It says “go f**k yourself”. The defiant last words of 13 Ukrainian border guards on Snake Island in the Black Sea after they were given an ultimatum by a Russian warship to surrender or die.”

Another wrote: “Gadsden flag repurposed in reference to the men who were told to surrender Snake Island.”

Credit: @brian_sack Twitter.

Snake Island held press event last year

As per the Daily Beast, Snake Island, although only small, has been prominent for Ukrainians.

Last year, Zelensky chose Snake Island to host a press event with the aim to assuage relations with Russia. “This island, like the rest of our territory, is Ukrainian land and we will defend it with all our might,” the Ukraine president said.

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Shania is a Magazine Journalism graduate from the University of Derby. Her main passion is rooted in print journalism, however, she also branches out towards social media and is also interested in public relations. Outside of writing, Shania enjoys using social media, reading, and drinking coffee.