Russia says it destroyed U.S.-made military vessel carrying Ukrainians near Snake Island

(Reuters) -Russia's defence ministry said on Tuesday its forces had destroyed a U.S.-made military speedboat carrying Ukrainian military personnel east of Snake Island in the Black Sea.

The ministry said a Russian warplane had taken out the vessel, which it said was carrying a "Ukrainian landing group".

It gave no further details, and Reuters could not independently verify the incident. Ukraine's defence ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Snake Island is a small Ukrainian outpost in the northwest part of the Black Sea, where tensions have escalated since Russia last month pulled out of a deal that had enabled Ukraine to ship grain from its southern ports despite the war.

Since Moscow quit the agreement, Russian drones and missiles have repeatedly struck Ukrainian port facilities and grain silos, while Ukrainian sea drones have damaged a Russian warship and struck a Russian tanker.

The island became synonymous with Ukrainian resistance in the first hours of the war on Feb. 24, 2022, when Russian officers on the Black Sea Fleet flagship Moskva radioed Ukrainian guards stationed there and ordered them to surrender or be bombed.

The island's defenders replied with the message "Russian warship, go fuck yourself", which went viral as a national slogan in Ukraine. Russia took the island but abandoned it on June 30 last year after taking heavy losses trying to defend it.

(Writing by Alexander Marrow and Mark TrevelyanEditing by Gareth Jones)