Ukraine announces seven dead in Russian attack on evacuees

The Russian guided missile cruiser Moskva, flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, sank in the Black Sea after being damaged during the military operation in Ukraine, the Russian Defense Ministry announced on April 14.

The ministry said the vessel sank while being towed to port during a storm after being heavily damaged by fire. Ukrainian officials said their forces hit the ship with missiles earlier in the day.

“The ship lost its balance due to damage sustained in the hull as a fire broke out after the ammunition exploded,” TASS said citing the ministry. “Given the rough seas, the ship sank.”

The loss of the warship named after the Russian capital was seen as a symbolic defeat for Moscow, which had already been forced to withdraw its forces from northern Ukraine earlier this month.

The Moskva could carry 16 long-range cruise missiles, and its loss will significantly reduce Russia’s firepower in the Black Sea.

The Russian Defense Ministry said earlier that a fire on the Moskva had detonated munitions and its crew had been evacuated. He denied there had been an attack on the ship.

But Maksym Marchenko, the Ukrainian governor of the region around the Black Sea port of Odessa, said the ship was hit by two Ukrainian-made Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles.

Ukraine said it launched the cruise missile strike as Moscow expected Moscow to focus on the war to the east as fierce fighting continues to hit the port city of Mariupol where defenders still held out .

The sinking of the warship is a “serious blow” to Russia’s naval force in the Black Sea, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.

“It’s … a key part of their efforts to exert some kind of naval dominance in the Black Sea,” he told CNN.

Emboldened by this development, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy again called on Western countries to ship more weapons.

“We are not afraid of anything, because we know what we are fighting for,” Zelenskiy said. said on Twitter. “We have enough courage to put an end to the evil. Stop feeding the [Russian] military device. To help [Ukraine] with weapons. Then peace and good will win much faster.”

Russia accused the Ukrainian forces to launch airstrikes on the Russian region of Bryansk on April 14, injuring civilians. The Russian Investigative Committee alleged that two Ukrainian military helicopters entered Russian airspace and carried out airstrikes on residential buildings in the village of Klimovo.

The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) rejected the charges, calling them “an attempt to trigger anti-Ukrainian hysteria in Russia”.

In nearby Mariupol, heavy fighting was reported as Russia tried to take full control of the strategic city, which if true would be the first city Moscow has been able to capture since the war was launched February 24.

Russia has said more than 1,000 Ukrainian marines have surrendered in the past 36 hours, but Ukrainian military officials have not confirmed the reports, saying only that Ukrainian forces are joining the city to continue defending it. .

Mariupol has become a key battleground because it would give Russia a land corridor between the separatist-held eastern areas and the Crimea region it seized and annexed in 2014. It would also free up troops engaged there to assist in a broader assault in southern and eastern Ukraine.

As the fighting raged, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said nine humanitarian corridors had been agreed with Russia to allow the evacuation of civilians from several towns, including Mariupol, on April 14.

Vereshchuk also said that a new prisoner exchange had been agreed with Russia and that a total of 30 Ukrainians would return home on April 14.

Russia’s war on Ukraine has been widely criticized, with the international community imposing crippling sanctions on Moscow while isolating it diplomatically. US President Joe Biden said on April 13 that the conflict amounted to genocide.

Ukraine’s parliament backed a resolution on April 14 recognizing the actions of Russian forces as genocide – defined by the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention as crimes intended to “destroy a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, by whole or in part”.

The actions of the Russian military “are not only a crime of aggression, but pursue the goal of the systematic and consistent destruction of the Ukrainian people”, reads the text of the resolution.

“hold Russia to account for its brutal and unwarranted invasion.”

The war has also raised security concerns in other countries in Europe, with Sweden and Finland saying on April 13 that it could only be a few weeks before they apply to join the alliance. NATO security.

Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council and one of President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies, warned April 14 that such a move by the two Nordic countries would put an end to the concept of a “nuclear-free” Baltic region.

With information from Reuters and AFP

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