Roman Hrybov, the Ukrainian sailor whose response to a Russian warship quickly became a symbol of the bloody conflict, has returned home and been awarded a medal for his service, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said Tuesday.
Hrybov was part of a group of border guards stationed on Snake Island off the country’s southwestern coast that refused to surrender to approaching Russian forces on the first day of the invasion in late February.
“Russian warship, go fuck yourself,” Hrybov could be heard flatly telling the Russians in audio of the interaction released by the Ukrainian military.
At the time, Ukrainian officials believed that the warship had bombed the sailors, killing all 19 of them, but the country’s navy later said that the group had been taken captive.
Supporters of Ukrainian democracy swiftly turned Hrybov’s phrase into an anti-war rallying cry, spreading it on protest signs, stickers and T-shirts.
The Snake Island garrison was released last week as part of a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia.
In video of the brief ceremony posted to YouTube, Hrybov is seen shaking hands with Ihor Taburets, the governor of Cherkasy ― the province in central Ukraine that Hrybov calls home ― and receiving an award for his service to the region.
“I want to say a huge thank you to the Ukrainian people for such support,” Hrybov says, according to a translation from Business Insider. “We feel this support very much. It inspires us. The strength, the justice are on our side.”
Ukrposhta, the Ukrainian postal service, held a design contest and released a stamp two weeks ago commemorating the defiant moment in Russia’s monthlong war.