There has been a fire on board the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, Moscow has admitted, with Ukraine claiming to have hit it with anti-ship missiles.
Russia’s defense ministry said the Moskva missile cruiser had been badly damaged after ammunition on board was blown up in the flames.
“As a result of a fire on the Moskva missile cruiser, ammunition detonated,” it said in comments reported by the Tass news agency.
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The crew – believed to number about 500 – were all saved, it added.
The ministry did not comment on what had caused the initial fire, saying it was under investigation.
Two Ukrainian sources told Sky News the 12,500 ton ship had been hit by anti-ship missiles launched by the Ukrainian military.
“She is on fire,” one of the sources said. “The level of damage is being clarified… She is about 25 nautical miles from Snake Island.”
Two Neptune missiles were used, Ukrainian media reported.
Those claims have not been independently verified.
Maksim Marchenko, the governor of Odesa, said on Telegram: “It has been confirmed that the missile cruiser Moscow went today exactly where it was sent by our border guards on Snake Island!
“Neptune missiles guarding the Black Sea caused very serious damage to the Russian ship.
“Glory to Ukraine!”
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His comments about Snake Island refer to an incident earlier in the war – the day after Russia’s invasion began – when the Moskva was one of two Russian ships approaching the patch of land in the Black Sea.
The Russians ordered 13 Ukrainian soldiers defending the island to surrender but the Ukrainians responded over radio, telling the Moskva and its crew to “go f*** yourself”.
At first it was thought the Ukrainian soldiers had been killed but the country’s navy later said they had been captured alive by Russia.
Other key developments:
• US officials are considering sending Secretary of State Antony Blinken or Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, in a show of solidarity
• Russia said it would impose retaliatory sanctions on 398 members of the US House of Representatives and 87 Canadian senators, after the US targeted 328 members of Russia’s lower house
• The presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia visited Kyiv to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
• Finland and Sweden appear to be edging closer to NATO membership
• Mr Zelenskyy said International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan visited Bucha on Wednesday, where more than 400 bodies were found; Russia has denied its troops committed any atrocities
Ukraine has warned that Russia is boosting its efforts in the south and east as it edges closer to taking control of Mariupol.
Russia’s defense ministry said on Wednesday that 1,026 soldiers from Ukraine’s 36th Marine Brigade, including 162 officers, had surrendered in the southern city and that the port had come under Russian control.
Ukrainian soldiers trying to defend the strategically-important city have been fighting for weeks while running out of food, water, and ammunition.
Ukraine’s general staff confirmed Russian forces were attacking the port area but said there was no information about a surrender.