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Russian cruiser Moskva damaged: Ukraine says it attacked ship


(KYIV, Ukraine) – Ukrainian forces said they hit and severely damaged the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, and Russia said its crew was forced to evacuate following a fire without scout an attack, as the battle moved east and around the battered town of Mariupol where the defenders were still holding out.

Odessa region governor Maksym Marchenko said the Ukrainians hit the missile cruiser Moskva with two missiles and caused “serious damage”.

The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that the ship was damaged, but not that it was hit by Ukraine – it said ammunition on board exploded following a fire of as yet undetermined causes. The entire crew was evacuated, he added; the cruiser usually has around 500 on board.

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

The reported ship attack by Neptune cruise missiles came a day after President Joe Biden called Russia’s actions in Ukraine “genocide” and approved $800 million in new military assistance to Kyiv, saying that the weapons of the West have supported Ukraine’s fight so far and “we can’t rest now.” Munitions include artillery systems, armored personnel carriers and helicopters.

Russia invaded on February 24 with the aim, according to Western officials, of taking kyiv, overthrowing the government and installing a favorable replacement for Moscow. But the ground advance slowly stalled and Russia lost potentially thousands of fighters. The conflict has killed countless Ukrainian civilians and forced millions more to flee. It has also shaken the global economy, threatened global food supplies and upset the balance of post-Cold War Europe.

The Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian presidents showed their support for Ukraine during a visit to war-torn regions on Wednesday and demanded accountability for what they said were war crimes. They meet their counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and visit Borodyanka, one of the towns near kyiv where evidence of atrocities was found after Russian troops withdrew to focus on the east of the country.

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

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 banks in the country.

In one of the most crucial battles of the war in the southern port city of Mariupol, the spokesman of the Russian Ministry of Defense, Major General. Igor Konashenkov said 1,026 soldiers from the Ukrainian 36th Marine Brigade went to a metal factory. 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.”

Russian troops are preparing for a major offensive in the eastern Donbass region, where Moscow-allied separatists and Ukrainian forces have been fighting since 2014. Mariupol is a key part of the Russian campaign and is in Donbass, which the Russians have beaten for weeks.

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

Russian state television on Wednesday aired 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 or chairs. A man held a white flag. In the background was a large industrial building with its windows shattered and roof missing, identified by the broadcaster as Iliich’s metallurgy.

A UN task force has warned that the war threatens to devastate the economies of many developing countries which are facing ever higher food and energy costs and increasingly difficult financial conditions. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the war is “fuelling” a food, fuel and financial crisis in the poorest countries already struggling to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and lack of access to finance.

In his late night address, Zelenskyy noted that the International Criminal Court prosecutor had visited the kyiv suburb of Bucha, which was controlled by Russian forces until recently and where evidence of massacres and more than 400 bodies have been found.

“It is inevitable that Russian troops will be held responsible. We will take everyone to court, and not just for what was done to Bucha,” Zelenskyy said Wednesday night.

He also said work was continuing to remove tens of thousands of unexploded shells, mines and tripwires left in northern Ukraine by departing Russians. He urged people returning home to be wary of any unfamiliar objects and report them to the police.

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

The report said there were also violations by Ukraine, but concluded that those committed by Russia “are far greater in scale and nature.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied that his troops have committed atrocities, saying on Tuesday that Moscow “has no choice” but to invade and “will continue until its complete completion and the fulfillment of the tasks assigned to it”. have been fixed”. He insisted Russia’s campaign was going according to plan despite a major withdrawal after his forces failed to take the capital and suffered heavy casualties.

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

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