After warship sinks, Russia announces it will increase attacks on Ukrainian capital

By ADAM SCHRECK, Associated Press

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A day after Moscow suffered a symbolic crushing defeat with the loss of the flagship of its Black Sea Fleet, Russia’s Defense Ministry on Friday vowed to step up missile attacks on the Ukrainian capital in response to alleged “military hijackings” of Ukraine. on Russian territory.

The threat of intensified attacks on kyiv came after Russian authorities accused Ukraine of launching airstrikes on residential buildings in Bryansk, a region bordering Ukraine, and injuring seven people. Authorities in another region bordering Russia also reported Ukrainian shelling on Thursday.

Life in kyiv has gradually returned to some normalcy after Russia failed to capture the capital and withdrew its troops to northern Ukraine to focus on a concentrated assault in the east of the country. Another bombardment could send the city’s residents back to safety in subway stations and the constant wail of air raid sirens.

Ukrainian officials have not confirmed any striking targets in Russia, and reports from Russian authorities could not be independently verified. However, Ukrainian officials said their forces hit a key Russian warship with missiles on Thursday. If true, the claim would represent a significant victory.

People examine the damage after a shopping mall was bombed, in kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, March 21, 2022. At least eight people were killed in the attack. (AP Photo/ (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, file)

The missile cruiser Moskva, named after the Russian capital, sank while being towed to port after sustaining heavy damage in circumstances that remained controversial. Moscow acknowledged a fire on board but no attack. American and Western officials could not confirm the cause of the fire.

The Moskva had the capacity to carry 16 long-range cruise missiles, and its removal reduces Russia’s firepower in the Black Sea. The loss of the warship in an invasion already widely seen as a historic mistake was also a symbolic defeat for Moscow as its troops regroup for an offensive in eastern Ukraine after pulling out of Ukraine. much of the north.

During the early days of the war, the crew of the Moskva reportedly called on Ukrainian soldiers stationed on Snake Island in the Black Sea to come to a standoff. A widely circulated recording featured a Ukrainian soldier saying in response, “Russian warship, go (expletive) yourself.

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

If Ukraine hit the Moskva with missiles, the cruiser likely represents the largest warship sunk in combat since the 1982 Falklands War, which saw a similarly sized cruiser called ARA General Belgrano torpedoed by a submarine. British sailor, killing over 300 sailors on board. .

In his late night address Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Ukrainians they should be proud to have survived 50 days under Russian attack while the invaders “gave us a maximum of five”.

Listing the means by which Ukraine defended itself against the onslaught, Zelenskyy mentioned “those which showed that Russian warships can navigate, even if it is on the bottom” of the sea. It was his only reference to the Moskva.

News about the flagship has overshadowed Russian claims of advances in the southern port city of Mariupol, where Moscow forces have been battling the Ukrainians since the early days of the invasion in some of the fiercest fighting of the war – at a horrendous cost to civilians.

War in Ukraine

A view inside the Mariupol Theater damaged during fighting in Mariupol, in the territory under the government of the Donetsk People’s Republic, eastern Ukraine, Monday, April 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov, file)PA

Fewer and fewer Ukrainian defenders in Mariupol are resisting a siege that has trapped more than 100,000 civilians in desperate need of food, water and heat. David Beasley, executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme, told AP in an interview on Thursday that people are “starving” in the besieged city.

The mayor of Mariupol said this week that more than 10,000 civilians had died and the death toll could exceed 20,000.

The capture of Mariupol is essential 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 Donbass region, the industrial heartland of eastern Ukraine and the target of the imminent offensive.

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

Christi C. Elwood