Ukraine says missiles hit Russian flagship and crew evacuate

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) – Ukrainian forces say they hit and damaged the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, and Russia said its crew was forced to evacuate as a result of a fire without acknowledging an attack as the battle shifts to the east and around the battered city of Mariupol, where the defenders still persevered.

The governor of the Odesa region, Maksym Marchenko, said the Ukrainians hit the guided missile cruiser Moscow with two missiles, causing “serious damage.”

The Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed that the ship was damaged, but not that it was hit by Ukraine – it said that ammunition on board detonated as a result of a fire for as yet unexplained reasons. The entire crew was evacuated, it added; the cruiser typically has about 500 on board.

If confirmed, the sinking of the cruiser would be a major blow to Russia after the tanker Orsk was hit and set on fire in an attack in Berdyansk in the Azov Sea late last month.

The reported shipwreck with Neptune cruise missiles came the day after President Joe Biden called Russia’s actions in Ukraine a “genocide” and approved $ 800 million in new military aid to Kiev, saying that weapons from the West have held Ukraine’s battle until further, and “we can not rest now.” The ammunition includes artillery systems, armored personnel carriers and helicopters.

Russia invaded on February 24 with the goal, according to Western officials, of capturing Kiev, overthrowing the government and installing a Moscow-friendly replacement. But the advance on the ground slowly came to a halt, and Russia potentially lost thousands of warriors. The conflict has killed countless Ukrainian civilians and forced millions to flee. It has also rattled the world economy, threatened global food supplies and shattered Europe’s balance after the Cold War.

The presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia showed their support for Ukraine on a visit on Wednesday in war-torn areas and demanded responsibility for what they called war crimes. They meet with their counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and visit Borodyanka, one of the cities near Kiev, where evidence of atrocities was found after Russian troops withdrew to focus on the eastern part of the country.

Youtube video thumbnail

“There is no doubt that they committed war crimes. And for that they should be held accountable, “said Latvian President Egils Levits.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda added: “The fight for the future of Europe is taking place here.” He called for tougher sanctions, including against Russian oil and gas shipments and all the country’s banks.

In one of the most decisive battles of the war in the southern port city of Mariupol, spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Defense, Major General. Igor Konashenkov said 1,026 troops from the Ukrainian 36th Naval Brigade surrendered at a metal factory. But Vadym Denysenko, adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, dismissed the claim, telling Current Time TV that “the battle for the port is still going on today.”

Russian troops are preparing a major offensive in the eastern Donbas region, where Moscow-allied separatists and Ukrainian forces have been fighting since 2014. Mariupol is a key piece in the Russian campaign and is located in the Donbas, which the Russians have attacked. weeks.

It was unclear when a surrender may have taken place, or how many forces were still defending Mariupol.

Russian state television on Wednesday aired footage, which it said was from Mariupol, showing dozens of men in camouflage walking with their hands up and carrying others on stretchers or in chair holders. A man was holding a white flag. In the background was a tall industrial building with broken windows and a missing roof, identified by the TV company as the Iliich metalworks.

A UN task force warned that the war threatens to destroy the economies of many developing countries, which face even higher food and energy costs and increasingly difficult economic conditions. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the war was “leaving” a crisis in food, energy and finance in poorer countries that were already struggling to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and lack of access to finance.

In his nightly speech, Zelenskyy noted that the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court visited the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, which until recently was controlled by Russian forces and where evidence of mass murder and more than 400 bodies was found.

“It is inevitable that Russian troops will be held accountable. We will all go to court, and not just for what was done in Bucha, Zelenskyy said late Wednesday.

He also said work is continuing to clear tens of thousands of unexploded ordnance, mines and stumbling blocks left in northern Ukraine by the departing Russians. He urged people returning to their homes to be on guard against unknown objects and report them to the police.

Also on Wednesday, a report commissioned by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe found “clear patterns of (international humanitarian law) violations by Russian forces in their conduct of hostilities.” It is written by experts selected by Ukraine and published by the Vienna-based organization, which promotes security and human rights.

The report said that there were also violations on the part of Ukraine, but concluded that they committed by Russia “are far greater in scope and character.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied his troops having committed atrocities, saying on Tuesday that Moscow “had no choice but to invade and would” continue until its full completion and the fulfillment of the tasks that have been set. ” He insisted that Russia’s campaign proceeded as planned, despite a major withdrawal, after its forces failed to occupy the capital. and suffered significant losses.

___

Associated Press writer Robert Burns in Washington and AP journalists around the world contributed to this report.

___

Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Leave a Comment