Five Islands of Ukraine



In this episode off my "Islands" blog series I have decided to feature a country that is probably in the news worldwide. I don't think there will be anyone reading this that hasn't heard of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. So I thought to myself, why not write about this country's islands. When I first started my research I didn't even know if there were any islands, although I knew that Ukraine had a coastline on the Black Sea. To be honest, there aren't that many islands, although I have managed to pick five of them that have some history besides the events that are unfolding as I write this. I have decided that I may mention the current situation but not make it the main part of each entry. I will mainly concentrate on each islands former history but not completely disregard something that may be much more recent.

I'm not sure if all the links in the blog will work all of the time. At the time of writing all weblinks are working but due to the situation changing by the second, some links may become unavailable.

Here are the five islands of Ukraine......

Byriuchyi Island.

Byriuchyi Island, or translated Wolf Island, is a former island located at the end of a long spit of land in the Azov Sea.
Landscape of Byriuchyi Island.
Fallow Deer on the island.

The island is currently a nature reserve, which is part of the Azov-Syvash National Nature Park which was first established in 1927. The area is a habitat for red and fallow deer, wild asses, horses and pheasant.

In the first millenium BC the island was inhabited by the Royal Scythians, a nomadic people that covered land from Kazakhstan to Romania. Their land is depicted in orange on the map opposite.

From the 19th century fishing thrived on the island, with two factories processing the catch. Due to the large number of fishing vessels in the area a lighthouse was built in 1878. All was relatively peaceful until the island was occupied during World War 2, initially by Romanian troops, but then by German forces. They destroyed the lighthouse and fled before Soviet forces could capture them.

After the war, life resumed on the island with homes and schools being rebuilt along with the lighthouse. However a flood in 1969 destroyed most of the buildings and the island has been virtually uninhabited ever since.

Arts facility on the island.

In 2003, a meeting between the president of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma, and Vladimir Putin took place to discuss their mutual border in the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait.

A contemporary art facility was established in 2006 and events are normally held twice a year.

There have been films made on the island by Italian directors in 2015.

Some more information can be found here .

Berezan Island.

Berezan is an island in the Black Sea, near to the joint estuary of the Dnieper and Bug rivers. It is seperated from the mainland by about a mile and half (Three kilometres) of shallow water. It is believed that the island was at one time part of the mainland.

Berezan Island

Although it is now uninhabited, the island was one of the first Greek colonies in the Black Sea in the 7th century BC. By the 5th centrury BC the island had been abandoned in favour of Olbia on the mainland.

Archaeological excavations on the island.

During the Middle Ages, it was realised that the island was of military importance, as it was in a defensive position at the mouth of the Dnieper River. It became an important way point on the trade route between Scandinavia and Greece

In 1905, a runestone waas discovered whilst archaeologists were digging a burial site. This is the only runestone to ever be found in the area. The inscription translated to English reads "Grani made this vault in memory of Karl, his partner." The words used indicate that Karl was the business partner of Grani. They were thought to have been traders from Gotland, Sweden's largest island. The stone is currently in a museum in Odessa.

The Berezan Runestone

Due to it's location the island has been fought over and controlled by different groups over the centuries. Kievan Rus, the Byzantine Empire, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Crimean Khanate, and the Zaporozhian Cossacks have all had influence on the island. The Cossacks built a fort during their campaigns against the Crimean Tatars and the Ottoman Empire.

The obelisk commemorating Pyotr Schmidt.

There is an obelisk on the tip of the island commemorating Lieutenant Pyotr Schmidt. He was one of the leaders of the Sevastapol Uprisings during the Russian Revolution in 1905. Following a hearing in 1906, Schmidt was executed on Berezan Island.

Pyotr Scmidt.

The island is now uninhabited for most of the year, however scientists working on the archaeological dig arrive each summer. The sites are regularly looted for artifacts.

More photographs of the island can be found on this website .

Zmiinyi Island.

Located near to the Danube estuary, Zmiinyi, or Snake Island in English, has been the scene of many invasions and rulers over many centuries. In ancient times it was the site of a Greek temple dedicated to Achilles who is said to be buried there.

Zmiinyi Island

The island has changed hands several times during various wars, passing from the Ottoman Empire to the Russian Empire, and back to the Ottomans who gave it to Romania.

The Island of Serpents by Carlo Bossoli

During the First World War the Russians operated a wireless station on the island under the alliance with Romania. It was destroyed by a Turkish cruiser in 1917 along with the lighthouse and other buildings. The 1920 Treaty of Versailles confirmed the island as Romanian territory. The lighthouse was rebuilt in 1922.

The island was again used as a radio station during the Second World War, this time by the Axis powers. This made it a target for the Soviet Black Sea fleet and the island was attacked many times during the war until it was finally surendered to the Russians in 1944.

Snake Island was still in Romanian hands until 1948 when it was ceded to the Soviet Union, who constructed a RADAR station on the island the same year. Soviet ownership was finally confirmed in 1961. Ukraine inherited the island in 1991 following the break up of the USSR. The islands only settlement, Bile, was established in 2007.

Most recently the island has been in the headlines during the 2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russia. On the island were thirteen Ukrainian border guards. The two Russian warships, the Vasily Bykov and the Moskva attacked the island. In a second attack Russian forces captured the island. The border guards were asked to surrender but famously replied "Go F*** Yourselves". It was thought that all thirteen were killed initially but most recent reports show this is uncertain.

This website has more detailed information from before the recent attack.

Trukhaniv Island.

This island is inland and in the city of Kiev. It is situated at the confluence of the Dnieper and Desna rivers.

Panorama of the island with the pedestrian bridge.

The history of this island goes back to Tugor-Khan, it is thought the island derives it's name from him, whose daughter married Prince Sviatopolk II of Kyiv during his reign in the 11th century. It is thought their summer residence was on the island and it was named after Tugor-Khan.

In 1534, the island became the property of the Pustynno-Mykilsky monastery. It was returned to the city of Kiev in 1698.

Trukhaniv's first buildings were constructed during the 19th century and by 1880 businesses had begun to appear.

However during the Second World war the German forces destroyed all the settlements in order to give a better view of the city of Kiev and to control the area more effectively.

Following the war, the island was rebuilt with leisure facilities in mind.

Old Yacht Club on Trukhaniv
Cycleway and small bridge on the island.

Many leisure pursuits are available on the island including cyclepaths, hiking trails, a motocross track, diving facilities, several resort hotels and beaches. In the winter cross-country skiing is available too. There are restaurants and even a nudist beach. Many tourists havew been accomodated on the island especially during the 2005 Eurovision final and the 2012 UEFA tournament hosted by Ukraine and Poland.

There are more pictures available on this website.


Khortytsia is an island in the Dnieper river in the area near to the city of Zaporizhzhia in the south east of Ukraine. It is part of the Khortytsia National Park.

Khortytsia from above.

Khortytsia Island has been inhabited for at least the last 5,000 years. It was another island that was an important stopping off point on the trade routes from Scandinavia to Greece during the Middle Ages.

Neolithic altar reconstructed on the island.

A stronghold built by the Zaporozhian Cossacks has been reconstructed as a museum on the island. The Cossacks were expelled from the island in 1775 by Catherine the Great, and banished to lands in the Caucasus region.

Cossack Museum.

The island was declared a historical and cultural reserve in 1965. The museum was built in 1983 and contains exhibits from the Stone Age to the 20th century.

Official website of the Khortytsia National Park.


There you are. Five islands of Ukraine. At the time of writing the situation within Ukraine is changing by the minute. Aid agencies worldwide are responding to the needs of many thousands of refugees that are pouring out of the country. I suppose that protecting historical sites is the last thing on the minds of folk fleeing for their lives. I hope and pray that this conflict ends soon before it escalates to God knows what, however I fear that worse is to come. I hope I'm wrong.
Until next time, so long and to any of our users in Ukraine, STAY SAFE, and GOOD LUCK !
Level 57
Mar 6, 2022
Keep this series going! What country are you doing next?
Level 78
Mar 6, 2022
Thank you, I've no idea yet to be honest. I only did Ukraine as a last minute decision. I haven't touched Scandinavia yet so who knows ?
Level 62
Mar 6, 2022
Great blog, Toowise! I would have thought that there wouldn't be much interesting islands to talk about in Ukraine since it doesn't really have a long coastline, but turns out I was wrong lol.
Level 78
Mar 6, 2022
Thank you. I was surprised myself. 😎
Level 43
Mar 6, 2022
Hopefully none of them will be attacked!

next Italy or Portugal according to camera on your desk

Level 78
Mar 7, 2022
Unfortunately one of them already has, Zmiinyi Island. Let's hope this conflict ends soon.

Italy already been done, tell me where the camera is and I'll clean the lens for you.

Level 43
Mar 7, 2022
I’m 12 but sometimes I feel I’m drunk. Apparently we lost the contact, but we are working for have privileged information cough, helping to you on the blog in general :)