Damaged Black Sea flagship by Russian army sinks | Govt. & Policy

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By ADAM SCHRECK – Associated Press

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, a missile cruiser that became a potential target of the Ukrainian challenge in the early days of the war, sank on Thursday after being heavily damaged during of the latest setback in the invasion of Moscow. .

Ukrainian officials said their forces hit the ship with missiles, while Russia acknowledged a fire on board the Moskva but no attack. American and Western officials could not confirm the cause of the fire.

The loss of the warship that bears the name of the Russian capital is a devastating symbolic defeat for Moscow because its troops regroup for a new offensive in eastern Ukraine after withdrawing from much of the north, including the capital.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the ship sank in a storm while being towed to port. Russia said earlier that flames on the ship, which would typically have 500 sailors on board, forced the entire crew to evacuate. He then said the fire had been brought under control and the ship would be towed to port with its missile launchers intact.

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The ship had the capacity to carry 16 long-range cruise missiles, and its removal reduces Russia’s firepower in the Black Sea. It is also a blow to Russian prestige in a war already widely seen as a historical error. Now entering its eighth week, the Russian invasion has stalled due to resistance from Ukrainian fighters bolstered by weapons and other aid sent in by Western nations.

During the early days of the war, Moskva was reportedly the warship that called Ukrainian soldiers stationed on Snake Island in the Black Sea to a standoff. In a widely played recording, a soldier replied, “Russian warship, go (expletive) yourself.

The Associated Press could not independently verify the incident, but Ukraine and its supporters consider it an iconic moment of defiance. The country recently unveiled a postage stamp commemorating him.

News of the flagship’s damage eclipsed Russian claims of advances in the southern port city of Mariupol, where they have been fighting the Ukrainians since the early days of the invasion in some of the fiercest fighting of the war – at a horrendous cost to civilians.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said on Wednesday that 1,026 Ukrainian soldiers went to a metallurgical plant in the city. But Vadym Denysenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, dismissed that claim, telling Current Time TV that “the battle for the seaport is still going on today.”

It was not known how many forces were still defending Mariupol.

Russian state television broadcast footage it said came from Mariupol showing dozens of men in camouflage uniforms walking with their hands in the air and carrying others on stretchers. A man held a white flag.

Mariupol was the scene of the worst suffering of the war. A dwindling number of Ukrainian defenders are resisting a Russian siege that has trapped more than 100,000 civilians in desperate need of food, water and heat.

The mayor said on Monday more than 10,000 civilians had died in the siege and the death toll could exceed 20,000. Weeks of attacks and deprivation have left bodies “lurking in the streets”, he said. -he declares.

The capture of Mariupol is crucial for Russia because it would allow its forces in the south, which were crossing the annexed Crimean peninsula, to fully link up with troops in the eastern region of Donbass, Ukraine’s industrial heartland and the target of the coming offensive.

The Russian military continues to move helicopters and other equipment together for such an effort, according to a senior US defense official, and it will likely add more ground combat units “in the coming days”. But it is still unclear when Russia might launch a bigger offensive in Donbass.

Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Ukraine in Donbass since 2014, the same year Russia seized Crimea. Russia recognized the independence from the rebellious regions of Donbass.

The loss of Moskva could delay any new large-scale offensive.

Maksym Marchenko, the governor of the Odessa region across the Black Sea northwest of Sevastopol, said the Ukrainians hit the ship with two Neptune missiles and caused “serious damage”.

The Russian Defense Ministry said ammunition on board exploded following a fire, without specifying the cause of the fire. He said the “main missile weapons” were undamaged. In addition to cruise missiles, the warship also had air defense missiles and other guns.

The Neptune is an anti-ship missile that was recently developed by Ukraine and based on an earlier Soviet design. The launchers are mounted on trucks parked near the coast and, according to the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, the missiles can hit targets up to 280 kilometers (175 miles) away. This would have put the Moskva within range, depending on where it was when the fire started.

Other Russian ships that were also in the northern Black Sea moved further south after the Moskva fire, said a senior US defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal military evaluations.

Prior to the sinking of the Moskva, Yuriy Sak, an adviser to the Ukrainian defense minister, told The Associated Press that her withdrawal would mean “we can only breathe a sigh of relief, because it means fewer missiles will reach the cities Ukrainians”.

The United States has been unable to confirm Ukraine’s claims that the warship was hit, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Thursday. Still, he called it “a blow to Russia”.

“They kind of had to choose between two stories: one story is that it was just incompetence, and the other was that they were attacked, and neither is a particularly good outcome for them.” , Sullivan told the Economic Club of Washington. .

Russia invaded on February 24 and lost potentially thousands of fighters. The conflict has killed countless Ukrainian civilians and forced millions more to flee.

It also further inflated prices at grocery stores and gas pumps, while dampening the global economy. The head of the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday that the war had prompted the organization to revise economic forecasts for 143 countries downwards.

Also on Thursday, Russian authorities accused Ukraine of sending two low-flying military helicopters across the border and firing at residential buildings in the village of Klimovo in Russia’s Bryansk region. , about 11 kilometers (7 miles) from the border. The Russian Investigative Committee said seven people, including a toddler, were injured.

Russia’s state security service earlier said Ukrainian forces fired mortar shells at a border crossing in Bryansk as refugees crossed, forcing them to flee.

The reports could not be independently verified. Earlier this month, Ukrainian security officials denied that kyiv was behind an airstrike on an oil depot in the Russian town of Belgorod, about 55 kilometers (35 miles) from the border.

Associated Press reporters around the world contributed to this report.

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

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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