A senior U.S. defense official says the U.S. believes the Russian guided-missile cruiser warship that sank Thursday in the northern Black Sea had been struck by at least one Ukrainian anti-ship missile, as claimed by the Kyiv government.
Pentagon officials had previously said they could not confirm the Ukrainian claim, but they also did not refute it. The senior U.S. defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an intelligence assessment, said Friday that the Moskva was hit by at least one, and probably two, Neptune missiles on Wednesday, creating the large fire aboard.
The official offered no further details beyond saying the U.S. believes the Russians suffered some number of casualties aboard the ship.
Russia Says It Will Ramp up Attacks on Kyiv
KYIV, Ukraine — Russia’s Defense Ministry promised Friday to ramp up missile attacks on the Ukrainian capital in response to Ukraine’s alleged aggression on Russian territory, an ominous warning that followed Moscow’s stinging symbolic loss of its navy’s flagship in the Black Sea.
The threat of intensified attacks on Kyiv came after Russian authorities accused Ukraine of wounding seven people and damaging about 100 residential buildings with airstrikes on Bryansk, a region bordering Ukraine. Authorities in another border region of Russia also reported Ukrainian shelling Thursday.
“The number and the scale of missile attacks on objects in Kyiv will be ramped up in response to the Kyiv nationalist regime committing any terrorist attacks or diversions on the Russian territory,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.
Bodies of 900 Dead Civilians Found in Kyiv Region
More than 900 bodies of civilians were discovered in the Kyiv region following the withdrawal of Russian forces, the regional police chief said in a briefing Friday.
Andriy Nebytov, the head of Kyiv’s regional police force, said the bodies were abandoned in the streets or given temporary burials. He cited police data indicating that 95% died from gunshot wounds.
“Consequently, we understand that under the (Russian) occupation, people were simply executed in the streets,” Nebytov said.
More bodies are being found every day, under rubble and in mass graves, he added.
Pro-Russia Politician Held on Treason Charge
MOSCOW — The wife of a Ukrainian politician held by Kyiv on a treason charge has accused Ukrainian security services of torturing her husband and fabricating his escape from house arrest in a press conference held in Moscow on Friday.
Oksana Marchenko, the wife of Viktor Medvedchuk, the former leader of a pro-Russian opposition party and a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, referred to her husband as a “political prisoner,” and claimed that she does not know where he is.
Medvedchuk was detained on Tuesday in a special operation carried out by Ukraine’s state security service, or the SBU. The 67-year-old oligarch escaped from house arrest several days before the hostilities broke out Feb. 24 in Ukraine. He is facing between 15 years and a life in prison on charges of treason and aiding and abetting a terrorist organization for mediating coal purchases for the separatist, Russia-backed Donetsk republic in eastern Ukraine.
Independent Russian Website Blocked
Russia’s top independent English-language news outlet says Russian authorities have blocked its Russian-language website over critical coverage of the war in Ukraine.
The Moscow Times said Friday that its Russian-language website has become unavailable for some users and cited a ruling by the Prosecutor General’s office to restrict the access.
According to the news outlet, the authorities have separately blocked a page on the website with a story about 11 riot police officers who refused to fight in Ukraine. On Thursday, a journalist who first broke the story was jailed on the charges of spreading false information about the Russian military.
Russians Stop Burials in Mariupol: Report
KYIV, Ukraine — Mariupol City Council said Friday that local residents report Russian troops are digging up bodies previously buried in residential courtyards and not allowing any new burials “of people killed by them.”
“A watchman has been assigned to each courtyard and is not allowing Mariupol residents to lay to rest dead relatives or friends. Why the exhumation is being carried out and where the bodies will be taken is unknown,” according to a statement on the messaging app Telegram.
The claim could not be independently verified.
Earlier this month, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko told the AP that Russian forces have brought mobile cremation equipment to the city to dispose of the corpses of victims of the siege.
Russians Kill Seven Ukrainian Civilians on Buses: Report
KYIV, Ukraine — Seven people died and 27 were injured after Russian forces opened fire on buses carrying civilians in the Ukrainian village of Borovaya, near the northeastern city of Kharkiv, a spokesman for the regional prosecutor’s office told Ukraine’s Suspilne news website Friday.
Ukrainian law enforcement agencies are working to establish the circumstances of the attack, Dmytro Chubenko said. He added that investigators are also establishing the routes and destination of the vehicles transporting civilians across the Russian-controlled territory around Borovaya.
Chubenko said that Ukrainian authorities had opened criminal proceedings in connection with a suspected “violation of the laws and customs of war, combined with premeditated murder.”
The claims could not be independently verified.
Canada Sends 150 Soldiers to Poland to Help Refugees
OTTAWA, Ontario — Canada is sending soldiers to Poland to help with the care, coordination, and resettlement of Ukrainian refugees in Poland, including some who will come to Canada.
More than 2.6 million Ukrainians have fled into Poland since the first Russian troops crossed into Ukraine on Feb. 24 and over 2 million more have fled into other surrounding countries.
Defense Minister Anita Anand announced the deployment of up to 150 troops Thursday, saying the majority of the deployed troops will head to reception centers across Poland to help care for and register Ukrainian refugees.
Another group is being sent to help coordinate international aid efforts.
People Are Starving to Death in Mariupol: UN
KYIV, Ukraine — The head of the U.N. World Food Program said people are being “starved to death” in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol and he predicted the country’s humanitarian crisis is likely to worsen as Russia intensifies its assault in the coming weeks.
WFP executive director David Beasley also warned in an interview Thursday with The Associated Press in Kyiv that Russia’s invasion of grain-exporting Ukraine risks destabilizing nations far from its shores and could trigger waves of migrants seeking better lives elsewhere.
The war that began on Feb. 24 was “devastating the people in Ukraine,” Beasley said, lamenting the lack of access faced by the WFP and other aid organizations in trying to reach those in need amid the conflict.