Powerful explosions were heard in Kyiv on Friday, after which fighting raged in the east Ukraine took responsibility for the sinking of the RussiaThe Navy’s flagship in the Black Sea in one of the heaviest blows of the war.
The blasts appeared to be among the most significant in Ukraine’s capital region since Russian troops withdrew from the area earlier this month to prepare for fighting in the south and east.
Ukraine said it hit the Moskva missile cruiser with a Neptune anti-ship missile. The Soviet-era ship sank Thursday while being towed into port after a fire and explosions, Russia’s Defense Ministry said.
Over 500 crew members were evacuated, the ministry said, without acknowledging an attack.
The loss of the ship comes as the Russian navy continues its bombardment of Ukrainian Black Sea towns nearly 50 days after invading the country to root out what it calls far-right nationalists.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy paid tribute to all those “who stopped the progress of the endless convoys of Russian military equipment… Those who showed that Russian ships… can go to the bottom”.
There were no immediate reports of damage after the blasts in Kyiv, Kherson to the south, the eastern city of Kharkiv and the city of Ivano-Frankivsk to the west.
Ukrainian forces said Russian attacks on the towns of Popasna and Rubizhne, both north of the port city of Mariupol, were repulsed and a number of tanks and other armored vehicles destroyed. Reuters could not verify the reports.
Whatever the reason for the loss of the Moscow River, it is a setback for Russia and a major boost for Ukraine’s defenders.
The Russian Navy has fired cruise missiles at Ukraine and its Black Sea activities are crucial in supporting land operations to the south and east, where it is fighting for complete control of Mariupol.
The United States said it did not have enough information to determine if the Moscow River was hit by a missile.
“(But) the way this has played out is certainly a huge blow to Russia,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said.
Russia launched what it calls its “military special operation” on February 24 to invade Ukraine, in part to dissuade Kyiv and other former Eastern Bloc countries from joining NATO.
But in further setbacks for Moscow, Finland, which shares a long border with Russia, and nearby Sweden are now considering joining the US-led military alliance.
Moscow warned NATO on Thursday that if Sweden and Finland joined, Russia would deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles in a Russian enclave in the heart of Europe.
CIA Director William Burns said the threat that Russia might use nuclear weapons in Ukraine should not be taken lightly, but the agency has not seen much evidence to substantiate these concerns.
Kyiv and its allies say Russia has launched an unprovoked war that has seen more than 4.6 million people flee abroad and thousands killed or wounded.
Russia said Wednesday that more than 1,000 Ukrainian marines surrendered to one of the units still in Mariupol. Ukrainian officials did not comment.
Should Mariupol be taken, it would be the first major city to fall to Russian forces since their invasion, allowing Moscow to reinforce a land corridor between the separatist-held eastern Donbass territories and the Crimea region captured and annexed in 2014 .
Ukraine said tens of thousands of people are believed to have been killed in Mariupol, where efforts to evacuate civilians are underway.
The Russian Defense Ministry said late Thursday that 815 people had been evacuated from the city in the past 24 hours. Ukraine said that number was 289.
https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/europe/powerful-explosions-heard-in-kyiv-after-warship-sinks-in-big-blow-to-russia-41555835.html Powerful explosions heard in Kyiv after warship sinks in ‘great strike against Russia’