War in Ukraine, day 50 | Russian cruiser Moskva ‘badly damaged’

(Odessa) Russia suffered one of its biggest setbacks in its offensive against Ukraine with the burning and evacuation of the cruiser Moscowits flagship in the Black Sea, which the Ukrainian military claims to have hit with cruise missiles as the defenders of Mariupol wage a bitter struggle.

Posted at 6:13 a.m.
Updated at 9:28 a.m.

Joris FIORITI
France Media Agency

What you need to know

  • More than 4.7 million Ukrainian refugees have fled their country;
  • For Macron, using the word genocide is “not helping Ukraine”;
  • Moscow evokes nuclear weapons near Scandinavia in the event of NATO enlargement;
  • Criticized by Washington, Beijing defends its links with Moscow;
  • The governor of a Russian region bordering Ukraine accused Kyiv forces of shelling a Russian village on Thursday;
  • Ukraine announced Thursday a resumption of evacuations of civilians via nine humanitarian corridors, including from Mariupol;
  • The Russian military on Wednesday threatened to strike command centers in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv;
  • The US president on Wednesday announced a massive $800 million in new military aid to Ukraine;
  • International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan of Britain called Ukraine a “crime scene” on Wednesday;
  • Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau spoke for the first time on Wednesday of a “genocide” in Ukraine.

This 186-meter long missile ship was “severely damaged” by a fire which caused the explosion of ammunition and its crew of more than 500 men had to be evacuated, announced in the night the Russian Ministry of Health. Defense.

The latter then said Thursday morning that the fire had been contained and that the explosions had stopped. “The cruiser Moscow keeps its buoyancy” and will be towed away, he said.

The Ukrainian authorities for their part claimed to have hit with cruise missiles this flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet based in Sevastopol in Crimea.

“Neptune missiles protecting the Black Sea have caused significant damage to this Russian ship,” said the governor of the Odessa region on the Black Sea, Maxime Marchenko.

His remarks were confirmed by the spokesman for the military administration of this Ukrainian port city, Serguiï Bratchouk.

The decommissioning of this emblematic building, built in 1983 in the USSR, bearing the name of the Russian capital and previously engaged in the Russian campaign in Syria, would constitute a major snub for the Russian army. It would indeed come after the destruction at the end of March of a Russian warship in the port of Berdiansk, on the Sea of ​​Azov, and that of a fuel depot in Belgorod, Russia, which the Russians attributed to a Ukrainian helicopter attack carried out 40 km into enemy territory.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych also quipped that the Moscow was the famous “Russian military ship” which, at the start of the war, summoned a handful of Ukrainian soldiers stationed on a small island in the Black Sea to surrender: “Russian military ship, go fuck you! “.

The recording of this exchange had gone around the world and served as a leitmotif for the Ukrainian resistance, even appearing on placards during demonstrations of support abroad.

American heavy weapons

Even before the announcement of the explosions on this cruiser, Russia, whose massive offensive announced in the Donbass (east), after its failure in its efforts to seize Kyiv, has still not started and which is struggling to to take full control of Mariupol, a strategic port in southeastern Ukraine, has threatened to hit “decision-making centers” in Kyiv, accusing the Ukrainians of attacks on its territory.

“We are seeing sabotage attempts and strikes by Ukrainian forces on targets on the territory of the Russian Federation,” said Igor Konashenkov, the spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry.

The governor of the Russian region of Briansk, thus accused Thursday Ukraine of having bombed a village 10 km from the border, causing injuries.

“If such events continue, strikes will be carried out by the Russian army on decision-making centers, including in Kyiv, which the Russian army has refrained from doing so far,” said warns the spokesperson for the ministry, without specifying whether this expression refers exclusively to military targets.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has remained entrenched with his administration in the center of the capital since the start of the war, commanding respect around the world and intervening by video link in front of the parliaments of many Western countries, in particular to demand deliveries heavy armaments that are lacking to withstand the Russian firepower.

Joe Biden, who has so far refused to do so for fear of engaging in a military escalation with Moscow, acceded to this request on Tuesday, promising his Ukrainian counterpart massive new military aid of $800 million, including armor and long-range guns.

Defending the decision to arm Ukraine, American diplomacy confirmed the accusation of “genocide” brought Monday by the head of the White House, considering that “it is an intentional decision taken by Russia and by its forces to destroy Ukraine and its civilian population”.

French President Emmanuel Macron, publicly challenged by Volodymyr Zelensky on his refusal to use the word “genocide”, stressed for his part that “States which consider that it is genocide must by international conventions to intervene” .

“Is this what people want? I don’t think so”, because that would be “to become co-belligerent”, he claimed.

“Mariupol remains Ukrainian”

The heaviest human toll of this war.

The governor of the region spoke of 20-22,000 dead, the testimonies report a catastrophic situation and bodies strewing the streets, but the battle is not over.

The mayor of Mariupol, Vadim Boitchenko, thus denied Thursday the capture by Russian forces of its port area, announced the day before by the Russian Ministry of Defense.

“The Russians are deploying new forces, but we hold the line and Mariupol remains a Ukrainian city, which makes Russia furious,” he said.

“It is clear that the Russian army has committed thousands of war crimes in this city”, he added, asking “the international community to show humanity by creating humanitarian corridors to save lives “.

On the spot, AFP journalists embarked with the Russian forces saw the charred ruins of this city which the Ukrainians say “90% destroyed”.

Ukraine announced on Thursday a resumption of evacuations of civilians via nine humanitarian corridors, in particular from Mariupol.

The conquest of this city would be an important victory for the Russians, as it would allow them to consolidate their coastal territorial gains along the Sea of ​​Azov by connecting the Donbass region, partly controlled by their supporters, to the Crimea that Moscow annexed in 2014.

If some experts consider its fall inevitable, the Ukrainian military continues to resist, the fighting now being concentrated in its gigantic industrial zone.

The bombardments also continue in the eastern part of Ukraine, where they have caused the death of seven people in the past 24 hours in Kharkiv, a city in the northeast also besieged since the start of the Russian invasion.

Kyiv called on the population of these regions to flee as soon as possible for fear of an imminent major Russian offensive for full control of Donbass, which Ukrainian troops and their pro-Russian separatist enemies have shared since 2014.

Analysts say Russian President Vladimir Putin, mired in the face of fierce Ukrainian resistance, wants to secure a victory in Donbass ahead of the May 9 military parade in Red Square marking the Soviet victory over the Nazis in 1945.

Ukraine has become a veritable “crime scene”, judged on Wednesday in Boutcha, near Kyiv, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, the Briton Karim Khan.

Hundreds of bodies, according to the Ukrainian authorities, were discovered at the end of March, in this city which has become the symbol of the atrocities attributed to the Russian forces, Moscow denying for its part any extortion.

Around the capital as elsewhere, the Ukrainian authorities say every day that they find corpses in the areas from which the Russians have withdrawn.

It is in this context that the head of Irish diplomacy Simon Coveney is going to Kyiv on Thursday to meet with the Ukrainian government.

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