Focus on the News: Ukraine Defies Russian Invasion with Blood and Guts

Hi, there, Dear Reader. It’s late morning in Lithia, Florida, on Sunday, February 27, 2022. It is a warm Florida winter day in the Tampa Bay area. Currently, the temperature is 78˚F (26˚C) under sunny skies. With humidity at 64% and the wind blowing from the south-southeast at 4 MPH (6 KM/H), the heat index is 77˚F (25˚C). Today’s forecast calls for sunny skies and a high of 86˚F (30˚C). Tonight, skies will be clear. The low will be 62˚F (16˚C).

As I write this, I have my TV tuned to CNN Replay, which is on the channel lineup in the Samsung Plus app on my 4K UHD set. I’m obviously listening to the chatter, which basically is CNN news programming from the cable network that aired earlier this morning. Obviously, the topic du jour is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and from what I’ve seen, Russia’s authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin, is doubling down on his bid to topple the current democratic government in Kyiv  by force of arms and replace it with a regime that is more malleable to Moscow’s – meaning Putin’s – wishes.

The Russian army apparently thought that Ukraine and its young President, Volodymyr Zelensky, would acquiesce without a fight. Well, the generals in the Kremlin – and quite possibly Vladimir Putin himself – were unpleasantly surprised when that did not happen. Not only did Zelensky fail to either surrender to the advancing Russians or flee the country for a safe exile, but the Ukrainian people have taken up arms and stood up to fight against the invaders.

Already, we have seen Internet anecdotes and news reports of Ukrainian courage and defiance under Russian fire.

I’m sure you’ve seen or heard accounts about 13 Ukrainian border guards on Snake Island, a 40-acre (16 hectare) rocky island located 160 miles (300 kilometers) west of Russian-occupied Crimea. There are several versions of this story – including Russia’s, which is vastly different from Ukraine’s – circulating on global media.

Basically, the most common version of the Snake Island incident, which occurred two days ago,  is best exemplified by this account on

Ukraine has honoured 13 soldiers who were killed defending a tiny island after reportedly swearing at a Russian ship that ordered them to surrender.

In unverified audio clips, the borders guards defending Zmiinyi Island in the Black Sea are told to “lay down your weapons” or “be bombed”.

“Russian warship, go to hell,” they respond.

Ukraine says they were then killed by air and sea strikes. Russia denies the account, saying they all surrendered.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has awarded each of the guards the posthumous title of “Hero of Ukraine”.

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

There’s also the story of Ukrainian marine Vitaly Shakun, who was also named by President Zelensky as a national hero for sacrificing his life while delaying invading Russian troops by blowing up a strategically important bridge.

Here’s what Britain’s had to say about that episode:

A Ukrainian marine who blew himself up in order to destroy a bridge to slow the advance of Russian forces has been hailed a hero.

Vitaly Shakun could not get out in time from his position on Henichesk bridge in the Kherson region so decided to sacrifice himself to cut off a key route for Kremlin troops.

Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s President, has now announced he intends to make Shakun a Hero of Ukraine, the highest national title that can be conferred upon an individual citizen by the country’s president.

On Friday, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine outlined the soldier’s heroics on post on Facebook.

They said the battalion had decided the only way to stop Russian forces was to blow up the bridge. 

Troops placed mines on the crossing but Shakun could not get to a position of safety in time.

He texted colleagues to say he was going to blow up the bridge and then, seconds later, they heard an explosion.

Shakun’s efforts dramatically slowed down the Russian advance and allowed his comrades to regroup and re-deploy, the Facebook post said.

This morning I saw clips of Ukrainian civilians attempting to stop, or at least slow down, Russian tanks as the invaders attempt to capture Kyiv and other cities in Ukraine.

I also watched footage of ordinary Ukrainian citizens taking up arms – AK-type assault rifles and even Molotov cocktails – to fight for their homeland.

I also saw reports from Russia that show columns of tanks – either T-72 or T-80 main battle tanks or MBTs – headed toward Ukraine to reinforce the forces already inside the country.

Russia will probably prevail militarily – it has a larger standing army and is deploying some of its deadliest conventional weapons, including a flamethrower that sucks the air out of the lungs of anyone caught in its blasts – but it is losing the battle for hearts and minds in the West and much of the Free World. All of the major Western powers have imposed economic sanctions on Russia and its autocratic regime, and many countries are sending weapons to Ukraine to make the Russian invasion as costly as possible.

I don’t have a lot of personal news to share; The Caregiver made some vague promises to trim my beard in time for my upcoming birthday – my 59th – but I am not holding my breath. I am somewhat indifferent about celebrating my last fifty-something birthday; I doubt that I will be taken anywhere out to eat, and even though the Caregiver does set up some kind of birthday-related stuff – think one of those mylar balloons with the words “Happy Birthday” on them tied to the back of a chair, and you’ll have a good idea of what she does – I have not been at all impressed with how she celebrates my birthday ever since she got herself a new beau. I suppose what she does now is better than nothing, but it still sucks.

I’ll close for now, otherwise, it will be 1 PM when I finish this post. Until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.


Snake Island: Ukraine says soldiers killed after refusing to surrender,

Ukrainian marine who blew himself up to prevent Russian advance hailed a hero,

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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