Russia says blast crippled Black Sea flagship, Ukraine claims missile strike

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  • Missile cruiser Moskva damaged after munitions explosion
  • Ukrainian official says ship was hit by missiles
  • Zelenskiy warns of new Russian offensives to avenge defeats
  • The fall of the industrial zone would give Russia control of the port

KYIV/LVIV, Ukraine, April 14 (Reuters) – Russia said on Thursday the flagship of its Black Sea Fleet was badly damaged and its crew was evacuated following an explosion which, according to a Ukrainian official, was the result of a missile strike.

The Russian Defense Ministry said a fire on the Moskva missile cruiser had detonated ammunition, the Interfax news agency reported.

He did not specify the cause of the fire, but Maksym Marchenko, the Ukrainian governor of the region around the Black Sea port of Odessa, said the Moskva was hit by two anti-ship cruise missiles. Ukrainian-made Neptune.

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“The Neptune missiles guarding the Black Sea caused very serious damage,” he said in an online post.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry did not respond to a request for comment, and Reuters was unable to verify either side’s claims.

The Moskva is the second major ship known to have suffered serious damage since the start of the war. Last month, Ukraine said it destroyed a landing support ship, the Orsk, on the smaller Sea of ​​Azov.

The Russian Navy has launched cruise missiles into Ukraine and its activities in the Black Sea are crucial to supporting ground operations in the south of the country, where it is fighting to take full control of the port of Mariupol.

Russian news agencies said the Moskva, commissioned in 1983, was armed with 16 Vulkan anti-ship cruise missiles with a range of at least 700 km (440 miles).

Russia said 1,026 troops from Ukraine’s 36th Marine Brigade, including 162 officers, had surrendered in Mariupol and the city was fully under its control. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry spokesman said he had no information of a surrender. Read more

Capturing the industrial district of Azovstal where the marines have been locked up would give Russia control of Ukraine’s main port in the Sea of ​​Azov, strengthen a southern land corridor and expand its occupation of the country’s east.

“Russian forces are stepping up their activities on the southern and eastern fronts, trying to avenge their defeats,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video address late Wednesday.

Reuters journalists accompanying Russian-backed separatists saw flames billowing from the Azovstal region on Tuesday, a day after Ukraine’s 36th Marine Brigade said its troops had run out of ammunition.

The United States said on Wednesday it would send an additional $800 million worth of military equipment to Ukraine, including artillery, armored personnel carriers and helicopters. France and Germany also promised more.

Senior US officials are considering whether to send a cabinet member like Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Austin Lloyd to Kyiv as a show of solidarity, a source familiar with the matter said.

Russia will consider US and NATO vehicles carrying weapons on Ukrainian territory as legitimate military targets, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told TASS news agency.

It will impose tit-for-tat sanctions on 398 members of the US House of Representatives and 87 Canadian senators, Interfax said citing the Foreign Office, after Washington targeted 328 members of the lower house of Parliament Russian.

Britain announced new financial measures against separatists and Australia on Thursday imposed targeted financial sanctions on 14 Russian state-owned companies. Read more

Fiji said it was investigating the arrival of the superyacht Amadea, owned by Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, which has been sanctioned by the United States, Britain and the European Union. Read more

“RELEASE US FROM WHAT? »

Ukraine claims tens of thousands of people were killed in Mariupol and accuses Russia of blocking aid convoys to civilians stranded there.

Its mayor, Vadym Boichenko, said Russia had introduced mobile crematoria “to get rid of evidence of war crimes” – a claim it could not verify.

Moscow blamed Ukraine for civilian deaths and accused kyiv of disparaging Russian armed forces.

In the village of Lubianka northwest of kyiv, from where Russian forces had unsuccessfully attempted to subdue the capital before being driven out, a message to Ukrainians was written on the wall of a house that had been occupied by Russian troops.

“We didn’t want this… forgive us,” he said.

The Kremlin says it has launched a “special military operation” to demilitarize and “liberate” Ukraine from nationalist extremists, a message villagers say was repeated to them by Russian troops.

“To free us from what? We are peaceful… We are Ukrainians,” said Viktor Shaposhnikov, a resident of Lubyanka.

Polish President Andrzej Duda said during a visit to Kyiv with his Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian counterparts that those who committed and ordered crimes must be brought to justice.

The German president did not join them as he had planned. Zelenskiy denied a newspaper report that he had rejected the visit due to Steinmeier’s recent good relationship with Moscow. Read more

COMMENTS ON BIDEN’S GENOCIDE

The Kremlin has denounced President Joe Biden’s description of Moscow’s actions in Ukraine as amounting to genocide, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying it was unacceptable coming from the leader of a country he said had committed his own crimes.

A first report by an expert mission set up by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe documents a “catalogue of inhumanity” of Russian troops in Ukraine, according to the American ambassador to the OSCE.

“This includes evidence of direct targeting of civilians, attacks on medical facilities, rape, executions, looting and forced deportation of civilians to Russia,” said Michael Carpenter.

Russia has denied targeting civilians.

The kyiv district police chief said 720 bodies had been recovered in the capital region from which Russian forces had withdrawn, with more than 200 people missing.

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Additional reporting by Elizabeth Piper in Kyiv, Max Hunder in London, David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Reuters bureaus; Written by Costas Pitas and Stephen Coates; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Michael Perry

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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