Fate of Russia Warship Unclear After Ukrainians Claim Strike
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian officials said their forces hit the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet with missiles, and one official said Thursday that the vessel sank. Russia said the Moskva was badly damaged by a fire that forced the warship’s evacuation but that it was still afloat.
The loss of the warship named for the Russian capital would be a major military and symbolic defeat for Moscow as its troops regroup for a renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine after retreating from much of the north, including the capital.
Russia did not acknowledge any attack but said a fire aboard the ship, which would typically have 500 sailors on board, forced the entire crew to evacuate. It later said the fire had been contained and that the ship would be towed to port with its guided missile launchers intact.
The ship can carry 16 long-range cruise missiles, and its removal from combat would greatly reduce Russia’s firepower in the Black Sea. Regardless of the extent of the damage, any attack would represent a major blow to Russian prestige seven weeks into a war that is already widely seen as a historic blunder.
It was not immediately possible to reconcile the vastly different accounts, and cloud cover made it impossible to locate the ship or determine its condition based on satellite photos.
There was even some caution from Ukrainian officials: One said the ship sank, and a video from its armed forces described it overturning and beginning to sink, but another official refused to confirm that.
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Maksym Marchenko, the governor of the Odesa region, across the Black Sea to the northwest of Sevastopol, said the Ukrainians struck the ship with two Neptune missiles and caused “serious damage.”
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 stationed near the coast, and, according to the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, the missiles can hit targets up to 175 miles away.
The U.S. was not able to confirm Ukraine’s claims of striking the warship, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Thursday. Still, he called it “a big blow to Russia.”
Russia Says Ukraine Launched Cross-Border Airstrikes
Russian authorities have accused Ukrainian forces of launching airstrikes on the Russian region of Bryansk which borders with Ukraine, the latest in a series of allegations of cross-border attacks by Kyiv on Russian territory.
Russia’s Investigative Committee alleged that two Ukrainian military helicopters entered Russia’s air space on Thursday and, “moving at low altitude, acting deliberately, they carried out at least six airstrikes on residential buildings in the village of Klimovo,” about seven miles from the Russian border.
It said at least six houses in the village were damaged and seven people, including a toddler, sustained injuries. The Investigative Committee has launched a probe into the attack.
Earlier on Thursday, Russia’s state security service, or the FSB, also accused Ukrainian forces of firing mortars at a border post in the Bryansk region on Wednesday.
The reports could not be independently verified. Earlier this month, Ukraine’s top security officials denied that Kyiv was behind an airstrike on an oil depot in the Russian city of Belgorod, 35 miles from the border.
Zelenskyy Thanks US for $800 Million in New Military Aid
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he’s “sincerely thankful” to the U.S. for the new round of $800 million in military assistance.
They’ve been trying to destroy us for 50 days, but the ?? people are heroically resisting. We fear nothing, we know what we’re fighting for. We are brave enough to put an end to evil. Stop feeding the ?? military machine. Help ?? with weapons. Then peace & good will win faster. pic.twitter.com/WdDbZsvZ4e
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) April 14, 2022
In his daily late-night address to the nation, Zelenskyy also said he was thankful for Wednesday’s visit by the presidents of Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia.
He said those leaders “have helped us from the first day, those who did not hesitate to give us weapons, those who did not doubt whether to impose sanctions.”
In his telephone conversation with U.S. President Joe Biden, Zelenskyy said they discussed the new weapons shipment, even tougher sanctions against Russia and efforts to bring to justice those Russian soldiers who committed war crimes in Ukraine.
Zelenskyy also said work was continuing to clear tens of thousands of unexploded shells, mines, and tripwires that were left behind in northern Ukraine by the retreating Russians.
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Red Cross Will Help 2 Million Ukrainians
GENEVA — The international Red Cross says it’s rolling out its largest-ever cash assistance program to help more than 2 million people in Ukraine or who have fled abroad cope with the fallout from Russia’s invasion.
Nicole Robicheau, spokeswoman of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said Thursday the organization plans to distribute “well over 100 million” Swiss francs — about $106 million –- to people affected by Russia’s seven-week-old war in Ukraine.
Humanitarian groups like the IFRC have recently touted the effectiveness of cash assistance programs for people in places hit by events like natural disasters, drought, famine and conflict, as a way to “allow people to decide what they need” and “put money back into the local economy,” Robicheau said by phone.
The program aims to help some 360,000 people inside Ukraine and many more in countries of refuge.
IFRC says it and national Red Cross organizations have already helped over 1 million people with items like blankets, food, mats, and kitchen equipment.