CONCLUSION 6-Ukraine says fighting rages around Mariupol steel plant and port
Ukraine said on Friday it was trying to break the siege of Russian forces in Mariupol, with fighting raging around the steel plant and the port of Illich, while the capital kyiv was rocked by some of the most explosions. powerful in two weeks. Russia said it struck overnight what it said was a factory in kyiv that made and repaired anti-ship missiles, in apparent retaliation for the sinking of the Moskva, the flagship of Moscow’s Black Sea Fleet , Thursday.
Ukraine said one of its missiles sank the Moskva, in a powerful symbol of its resistance to a better-armed enemy. Moscow said the ship sank while being towed in rough seas after a fire caused by an explosion of munitions. The United States believes the Moskva was hit by two Ukrainian missiles and there were Russian casualties, although the numbers are unclear, a senior US official said on condition of anonymity on Friday.
Russia previously said more than 500 sailors aboard the Moskva were evacuated after the explosion. Neither this claim nor the US estimate could be independently verified. Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov, saw the worst fighting of the war. Home to 400,000 people before the Russian invasion, it was reduced to rubble in seven weeks of siege and bombardment, with tens of thousands still trapped inside. Thousands of civilians died there.
“The situation in Mariupol is difficult and harsh. Fighting is taking place at the moment. The Russian army is constantly calling for additional units to storm the city,” said the spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, Oleksandr Motuzyanyk. “But so far the Russians have failed to fully capture it,” he said in a televised briefing.
Motuzyanyk said Russia used long-range bombers to attack Mariupol for the first time since its Feb. 24 invasion, and elsewhere Russian forces were focusing their efforts on capturing the towns of Rubizhne and Popasna in the east. from Ukraine. Moscow has said its main war objective is to capture Donbass, an eastern region of two provinces that are already partly held by Russian-backed separatists, after its invasion force was driven from the outskirts of kyiv at the beginning of the month.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said 2,864 people were evacuated from conflict areas on Friday, including 363 people from Mariupol who used their own transport. TARGET
Mariupol is Russia’s main target in the Donbass and Moscow has said it hopes to capture it soon, making it the only major city it has captured so far. The Russian Defense Ministry said it captured the Illich steel plant. The report could not be confirmed. It is believed that the Ukrainian defenders are mainly resisting Azovstal, another large steelworks.
Both factories are owned by Metinvest – the empire of Ukraine’s wealthiest businessman and the backbone of Ukraine’s industrial east – which told Reuters on Friday it would never let its businesses run under Russian occupation. “We believe in Ukraine’s victory and plan to resume production after the end of hostilities,” Metinvest told Reuters in a statement, adding that its sites had been damaged but it was impossible to say by how much then. that the fighting continued.
Motuzyanyk called Russia’s loss of the Moskva significant. But he said he was not authorized to give information about the factory near kyiv that Moscow said its missiles hit. Moskva was by far the largest Russian ship in the Black Sea Fleet, equipped with guided missiles to shoot down aircraft and attack the shore, and radar to provide air defense coverage for the fleet.
Moscow used its naval power to blockade Ukrainian ports and threaten a possible amphibious landing along the coast. Without its flagship, its ability to threaten Ukraine from the sea could be crippled. No warship of such size has been sunk in conflict since Argentine General Belgrano, torpedoed by the British in the Falklands War in 1982.
The Russian Defense Ministry said its forces would step up strikes on kyiv. “The number and scale of missile strikes on targets in Kyiv will increase in response to any terrorist attacks or acts of sabotage on Russian territory by the nationalist regime in Kyiv,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.
Kirill Kyrylo, 38, a worker at a car repair shop in the Ukrainian capital, said he saw three explosions hit an industrial building across the street, starting a fire which was later extinguished by firefighters. “The building was on fire and I had to hide behind my car,” he said, pointing to shards of glass from the repair shop and pieces of metal that had hovered over the burning building. .
‘UNPREDICTABLE CONSEQUENCES’ Moscow reported that Russian villages in the Belgorod region near the border had been hit by Ukrainian shelling. Attacks in the area, a major staging ground for the Russian invasion, could not be confirmed.
Russia initially described its goals in Ukraine as being to disarm its neighbor and defeat the nationalists there. kyiv and its Western allies say these are bogus justifications for an unprovoked war of aggression that has driven a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people from their homes and led to the deaths of thousands.
The Washington Post reported that Moscow had sent a diplomatic note to the United States warning of “unforeseeable consequences” unless Washington stopped arms shipments to Ukraine. Russia said it expelled 18 employees of the European Union delegation in Moscow in retaliation for Brussels’ expulsion of 19 Russians earlier this month.
(Additional reporting from Reuters offices Writing by Peter Graff and Ingrid Melander Editing by Frances Kerry and Gareth Jones)
(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)