- The Moscow missile ship was damaged in the explosion of ammunition
- The ship was hit by missiles, a Ukrainian official said
- Zhelensky warns of new Russian attacks to avenge defeats
- The fall of the industrial area will give Russia control of the port
KYIV / LVIV, Ukraine, April 14 (Reuters) – A Ukrainian official said on Thursday that Russia’s first ship of the Black Sea Fleet had been severely damaged and its crew evacuated following an explosion, a Ukrainian official said.
Russia’s Defense Ministry says the explosives exploded in a fire on the Moskva missile, Interfax news agency reported.
It did not say what caused the fire, but Maksym Marchenko, the Ukrainian governor of the area around the Black Sea port of Odessa, said Moskva had been hit by two Ukrainian-made Neptune anti-ship missiles.
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“The Neptune missiles guarding the Black Sea caused the most severe damage,” he said in an online post.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense did not respond to a request for comment and Reuters was unable to verify the claims of either side.
Moscow was the second largest ship to suffer severe damage since the start of the war. Last month, Ukraine claimed to have destroyed a support ship, the Orsk, which landed in the small Sea of Azov.
Russia’s navy has launched missiles into Ukraine and its operations in the Black Sea are important in supporting land operations in the south of the country, where Mariupol is fighting to seize full control of the port.
Launched in 1983, Moskva is armed with 16 anti-ship Vulcan cruise missiles capable of a range of at least 700 km (440 miles).
Russia says 1,026 soldiers, including 162 officers from Ukraine’s 36th Marine Regiment, have surrendered in Mariupol and the city is completely under its control. A spokesman for Ukraine’s defense ministry said it had no information about the surrender. read more
The capture of the Azovstal industrial district by the navy would give Russia control of Ukraine’s main sea port of Azov, strengthen the southern land route and expand its occupation to the east of the country.
“Russian forces are increasing their operations in the southern and eastern fronts and seeking revenge for their defeats,” President Volodymyr Zhelensky said in a video conference on Wednesday night.
On Tuesday, a day after Ukraine ‘s 36th Marine Corps claimed its troops had run out of ammunition, Reuters reporters who arrived with pro-Russian separatists saw flames erupt from the Azovstal area.
The United States on Wednesday said it would send an additional $ 800 million worth of military hardware to Ukraine, including artillery, armored personnel carriers and helicopters. France and Germany also pledged.
A source close to the situation said that senior US officials were considering sending top-level cabinet members such as Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Austin Lloyd to Kiev to show solidarity.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rybkov told TASS that Russia would view US and NATO vehicles carrying weapons in Ukraine as legitimate military targets.
‘Free us from what?’
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vareshchuk said on Thursday that nine humanitarian corridors had been agreed to open to evacuate civilians, including a private car, from the besieged city of Mariupol.
Other evacuation routes come from Berdyansk, Tokmak and Enerhodor, and Vareshchuk said in a statement that those in the eastern Luhansk region would operate if Russian forces stopped the shelling.
Ukraine says tens of thousands of people are believed to have been killed in Mariupol, and accuses Russia of blocking a series of aid to civilians stranded there.
The mayor of Mariupol, Vadym Boichenko, said Russia had brought in the mobile incinerator “to remove evidence of war crimes” – a statement that could not be verified.
Moscow has blamed civilians for the deaths in Ukraine and Kiev for denigrating the Russian armed forces.
In the village of Lubyanga, northwest of Kiev, Russian forces failed in their attempt to capture the capital before it was expelled, and a message was written to the Ukrainians on the wall of a house occupied by Russian troops.
“We do not want this … forgive us,” it said.
The Kremlin says it has launched a “special military operation” to militarize and “liberate” Ukraine from nationalist extremists.
“To free us from what? We are quiet … we are Ukrainians,” said Lubyanga resident Viktor Shaboshnikov.
The Kremlin condemned President Joe Biden’s explanation that Moscow’s actions in Ukraine were tantamount to genocide, while spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was unacceptable for a head of state to do so.
The U.S. ambassador to the OSCE said the initial report of the work of experts set up by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe documents the “inhumane listing” of Russian troops in Ukraine.
Russia has denied targeting civilians.
The Kiev district police chief said 720 bodies had been found in the area around the capital, where Russian forces had retreated, and more than 200 were missing.
Sanctions hit Russian jobs
Britain announces new financial measures against separatists, Australia on Thursday imposed targeted financial sanctions on 14 Russian state-owned enterprises. Moscow and Washington have lifted restrictions on individual lawmakers.
Analysts say Western sanctions have triggered the worst economic crisis in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
More than 600 companies, including McDonald’s, have announced they will leave Russia, which could directly lose one million jobs, analysts say. read more
In all, the World Bank estimates that 2.6 million people could fall below Russia’s official poverty line this year.
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Elizabeth Piper in Kiev, Max Hunter in London, David Lungren in Ottawa and Reuters bureau report further; Written by Michael Perry; Editing by Stephen Coates
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