Ukrainian forces say they have hit and badly damaged the flagship of Russia's Black Sea fleet while the US announces an $800-million military aid package for Kiev, as the fighting continues in its 50th day.

Ukrainian military says it struck the Russian warship with Neptune missiles.
Ukrainian military says it struck the Russian warship with Neptune missiles. (AFP Archive)

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Pentagon: Sinking of warship 'big blow' to Russian fleet

The sinking of the warship Moskva after it was engulfed in an inferno was a "big blow" to Russia's naval strength in the Black Sea, the Pentagon has said.

"This is a big blow to the Black Sea fleet, this is... a key part of their efforts to execute some sort of naval dominance in the Black Sea," Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told US broadcaster CNN.

"This is going to have an effect on their capabilities."

Russia says flagship missile cruise ship has sunk after fire

Russia's Defence Ministry has said the missile cruiser Moskva, the flagship of Russia's Black Sea fleet, has sunk as it was towed back to port in stormy weather following an explosion and fire, Russian news agencies have reported.

The ministry had said earlier that the Soviet-era ship had been badly damaged by the fire, which Ukraine said was a result of its missile strike.

Zelenskyy: European countries buying Russian oil using blood money

European countries that continue to buy Russian oil are "earning their money in other people's blood," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said.

He cited Germany and Hungary, accusing them of blocking tougher energy embargoes. This year, Russia is expected to make $326 billion (£250 billion) in energy sales.

"Some of our friends and partners understand that it is a different time now, that it is no longer an issue of business and money – that it is an issue of survival," he told the BBC.

China serving as Putin’s ‘silent partner’ in Ukraine: CIA chief

China is working as Russian President Vladimir Putin's "silent partner" in his war against Ukraine, CIA Director William Burns has said.

Burns, speaking in his first public address since assuming the agency's top role, did not elaborate on China's support but said Beijing presents the CIA with "the most profound test" it has faced in its 75-year history, "lacking in neither ambition nor capability."

"It seeks to overtake us in literally every domain, from economic strength to military power, and from space to cyberspace," he said. "As an intelligence service, we have never had to deal with an adversary with more reach in more domains."

503 civilians killed in Ukraine's Kharkiv region

At least 503 civilians have been killed in Ukraine's eastern Kharkiv region since Russia launched its attack on February 24, the local governor said.

Oleg Synegubov wrote on Telegram that the dead included 24 children.

"This is an innocent civilian population, we will not forgive them for any life!" he wrote.

Russia reportedly destroyed 7 military facilities in Ukraine in the past 24 hours

Russian aviation has destroyed seven military facilities in Ukraine in the past 24 hours, including an artillery missile depot, Interfax news agency has quoted Russian defence ministry as saying.

Bad weather in Donbass could favour Ukrainians: US official

Rainy weather in Ukraine's eastern Donbass region could favour Kiev's forces in its fight against Russian forces, which are preparing a stronger offensive in the zone, a senior Pentagon official has said.

"The fact that the ground is softer will make it harder for them to do anything off of paved highways," said the official, who spoke under condition of anonymity.

The weather already played an important role in Ukraine's north at the beginning of the "special military operation", when the fact that the ground was not sufficiently frozen forced Russian tanks to circulate in long convoys on paved roads, making them vulnerable to the Ukrainian forces' Javelin anti-tank systems.

ICC will keep asking Russia to engage with Ukraine war crimes probe - prosecutor

International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan has said he will keep trying to get Russia to engage with his war crimes investigation in Ukraine.

Speaking at a briefing in Kiev after visiting a town in the region where Ukraine says atrocities were committed against civilians under recent Russian occupation, Khan said: "I'll keep trying to approach, for the third time, the Russian Federation."

Russia has dismissed allegations its troops committed war crimes in Ukraine as fake news.

French embassy to return to Kiev from Lviv in Ukraine's west

France has said its embassy in Ukraine will return to the capital Kiev from the western city of Lviv, where it had been relocated in early March after the Russian onslaught.

"This redeployment will happen very soon and will allow France to deepen its backing for Ukraine even further in all spheres to face the war unleashed by Russia on February 24," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Türkiye hopeful on mediation between Ukraine, Russia

Though recent "inhumane images" of apparent civilian massacres in Ukraine have affected the positive atmosphere of peace talks, hopes for negotiations between Kiev and Moscow remain alive on both sides, Türkiye's foreign minister has said.

"We're neither very pessimistic nor entirely optimistic. We're realistic, that is, our cautious optimism continues, but we need to keep working," he said.

Türkiye will maintain its balanced and principled foreign policy towards Russia, he added. "Everyone understands that it would be unrealistic for us to partake in these (Russia) sanctions while acting as a mediator between both parties."

Russia accuses Ukraine of shelling border villages

The governor of a region in southern Russia bordering Ukraine has claimed that two villages were evacuated after one was shelled by Ukrainian forces.

The governor of Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, wrote on Telegram that the village of Spodaryushino close to the border "came under shelling from the Ukrainian side".

No one was injured but the authorities had "temporarily removed residents" from the village and another nearby "to ensure security".

Ukrainian helicopters hit homes in Bryansk region: Russia

Russia's investigative committee has reported that Ukrainian forces had carried out at least six helicopter air strikes against the village of Klimovo in the Russian region of Bryansk, injuring seven people.

The Bryansk region governor said earlier that two residential buildings in the village had been hit by shelling.

Ukraine's defence ministry and military did not respond to requests for comment about cross-border shelling in the area.

Kiev rejects Moscow's claim it struck Russian border region

Kiev has rejected claims by Moscow that Ukrainian forces carried out attacks along the border between the countries including a strike Russia said left seven injured.

Ukraine's national security and defence council in a statement on social media instead accused Russia of staging "terror attacks" on its own territory to stir up "anti-Ukrainian hysteria" in the country.

"There have been several terrorist attacks on the Russian border, in which the Russian leadership accuses Ukrainian sabotage and intelligence groups," it added.

Ukrainian parliament calls Russian army's actions 'genocide'

Ukraine's parliament has backed a resolution recognising the actions of the Russian military in the country as "genocide".

"The actions committed by the armed forces of Russia are not just a crime of aggression, but pursue the goal of the systematic and consistent destruction of the Ukrainian people, their identity and the deprivation of their right to self-determination and independent development," the text approved by a majority of 363 lawmakers said.

More than 4.7 million Ukrainians flee in 50 days: UN

More than 4.7 million Ukrainians have fled their country in the 50 days since the conflict began, the United Nations said, in Europe's fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR said 4,736,471 Ukrainians had fled since Russia's assault began on February 24, a figure up 79,962 on Wednesday's update.

Women and children account for 90 percent of those who have left Ukraine, with men aged 18 to 60 eligible for military call-up and unable to leave.

Putin: Russia will direct energy eastwards as Europe shuns Russian gas

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Moscow will re-direct its energy eastward, as European countries try to reduce reliance on Russian exports.

"EU countries talk of cutting off energy supplies from Russia, driving up prices and destabilising the market", Putin said.

"Unfriendly countries are admitting that they cannot do without Russian energy resources", Putin said.

Ukraine conflict ‘severely affecting’ eurozone economy: ECB’s Lagarde

Russia's "special military operation" in Ukraine is "severely" impacting the eurozone economy, with surging energy costs, supply chain disruptions and weaker consumer confidence weighing on growth, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde has said.

"The war in Ukraine is severely affecting the euro area economy and has significantly increased uncertainty," Lagarde said in a virtual press conference.

"The impact of the war on the economy will depend on how the conflict evolves, on the effect of current sanctions and on possible further measures."

Russia claims border post fired at from Ukraine: TASS

Russia's security service has said that a border post in the Bryansk region had been fired at from Ukraine but that no one was injured in the incident, TASS news agency has reported. 

There was no immediate reaction from Kiev.

Having initially expected to swiftly overcome its neighbour, Russia has faced fierce resistance and now even reprisals in its own territory — leading Moscow to threaten to strike command centres in Kiev if Ukraine continues to launch attacks on Russian soil.

Russian flagship 'remains afloat' after munitions explosion

The Russian defence ministry has said its Black Sea flagship Moskva, which was involved in Moscow's military operation in Ukraine, is still afloat after a fire set off ammunitions explosions onboard.

"There is no open fire. The ammunitions explosions have stopped. The Moskva cruiser remains afloat," the ministry said in a statement. It added that the warship's "main missile armaments" were not harmed and its crew has been evacuated.

The Ukrainian military said earlier it had struck the Russian warship. The Russian defence ministry, however, said the cause of the fire was still being established.

Kharkiv governor: 4 civilians killed, 10 wounded in shelling

The governor of Ukraine's Kharkiv region, Oleh Synyegubov, has said four civilians have been killed and 10 wounded during Russian shelling of the city of Kharkiv.

In a statement on Thursday, the Kharkiv region governor also urged residents of some towns to evacuate since he said military operations were expected to take place in the area.

Russia has repeatedly denied targeting civilians or civilian infrastructure.

Russian subs fire missiles in Sea of Japan amid tension

Russian submarines in the Sea of Japan have fired cruise missiles during exercises, the defence ministry has said, at a time of tension with Tokyo over its support for Ukraine.

The ministry announced two submarines off far eastern Russia, the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and the Volkov, fired Kalibr cruise missiles from underwater at a target.

It posted video footage of the missiles rising out of the sea as the submarine crews simulated coming under missile attack.

134 more Ukrainian servicemen 'surrendered in Mariupol'

Another 134 Ukrainian servicemen, including 14 officers, have surrendered in the city of Mariupol overnight, the Russian Defence Ministry said on Thursday.

This means a total of 1,160 Ukrainian soldiers and officers laid down their weapons in Mariupol on Wednesday, ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said at a press briefing in Moscow.

He said 12 Ukrainian military objects have been hit with high-precision missiles over the past day, including two artillery depots, one MiG-29 fighter jet and a Mi-8 helicopter.

Lithuania: Russia already has nuclear weapons in Baltic region

Lithuanian Defence Minister Arvydas Anusauskas has said nuclear weapons have been deployed in Russia's Kaliningrad exclave on the Baltic Sea since before the current crisis.

One of Russian President Vladimir Putin's closest allies warned NATO on Thursday that if Sweden and Finland joined the US-led military alliance then Russia would have to bolster its defences in the region, including by deploying nuclear weapons.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said the Russian threat to increase military, including nuclear, in the Baltic region was "nothing new".

Russia opens criminal cases into alleged torture of its soldiers

Russia's Investigative Committee has said it will open criminal cases into Ukrainian servicemen's alleged torture of their Russian counterparts.

The committee, which probes major crimes, said some Russian soldiers had been captured by Ukrainian forces in the Zaporizhzhia and Mykolaiv regions and held illegally by Ukraine's security service.

"Russians were subjected to physical violence and torture in order to force them to give false explanations about the actual conditions...," it said in a statement. Ukraine says it checks all information regarding the treatment of prisoners and will investigate any violations and take appropriate legal action.

Ukraine talking to foreign partners for $8B in support

Ukraine is in talks with foreign partners for around $8 billion of financial support, its finance minister has said, adding that it had received over $3.5 billion of budget support already.

Asked whether Ukraine needed to restructure its external debt, Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko added that Ukraine did not currently have problems with that debt and that more than 80% of the debts it was servicing and repaying at the moment were domestic.

Indonesia: Russian minister to attend G20 meeting virtually

G20 host Indonesia has said Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov has confirmed he plans to attend next week's meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of 20 major economies virtually.

Indonesian finance ministry official Wempi Saputra also told a briefing that Jakarta was considering whether to invite Ukraine to the meeting, which will be held on April 20 in Washington "to discuss the impact of the conflict in Ukraine on global economic conditions".

At least 197 children killed in Ukraine: Officials

At least 197 children have been killed and 351 injured in Russia’s offensive, authorities have said. At least 1,014 educational institutions have been damaged and 91 completely destroyed.

Children in Donetsk, Kiev, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Mykolaiv, Kherson, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Sumy and Zhytomyr regions, as well as the capital city of Kiev, have been the most affected, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office said in a statement on Thursday.

19,900 Russian troops killed in conflict: Ukraine

At least 19,900 Russian soldiers have been killed in Ukraine, the Ukrainian military has said.

Ukrainian forces have destroyed 160 Russian aircraft, 144 helicopters, 134 unmanned aerial vehicles, 753 tanks, 1,968 armoured vehicles and 366 artillery systems, according to the Ukrainian General Staff’s latest update.

Russia pledges $238M in state support for airlines

Russia has pledged 19.5 billion roubles ($238 million) in state support for airlines to refund passengers flying on routes that have been cancelled due to sanctions, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has said.

"The subsidies will be used to refund passengers the cost of tickets on routes that have been cancelled due to external restrictions, which will save carriers their own working capital, which means there will be financial resources to ensure flight safety," Mishustin said.

Russia says Google faces fines over content on YouTube

Russia's communications watchdog has said Google will face fines over its failure to delete from video sharing site YouTube content that Moscow considers illegal.

Kiev to restart evacuations after halt over 'Russian violations'

Ukraine has said it will reopen humanitarian corridors allowing for the evacuation of civilians from conflict-hit regions of the country after a day-long pause that Kiev attributed to Russian violations.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a statement on social media that nine humanitarian corridors in east and south Ukraine had been agreed to evacuate civilians, including by private car from the besieged city of Mariupol.

The move came a day after the routes were shut as Vereshchuk said the situation was "too dangerous" for evacuations.

Ukraine wants 'as many security guarantors as possible'

Ukraine wants as many countries as possible to act as security guarantors, but Russia does not want the number to increase, presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, a Ukrainian negotiator in peace talks with Russia, has said in televised comments.

Russia warns NATO over Sweden and Finland membership

Russia has warned NATO that if Sweden and Finland joined the military alliance then Russia would have to bolster its defences and that there could be no more talk of a "nuclear free" Baltic.

"There can be no more talk of any nuclear–free status for the Baltic - the balance must be restored," said Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council. 

UK: Ukraine's Kramatorsk, Kostiantynivka likely targets

The Ukrainian towns of Kramatorsk and Kostiantynivka are likely to be targeted by Russia for levels of violence seen in other urban centres since Moscow attacked Ukraine in late February, British military intelligence has said.

In an update on the conflict, Britain's Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that "widespread missile and artillery strikes and efforts to concentrate forces for an offensive" showed a reversion to traditional Russian military doctrine.

It added that Ukraine's continued defence of Mariupol was currently tying down significant numbers of Russian troops and equipment.

Kiev: Russia regrouping along eastern border

Ukraine has warned that the Russian army is continuing to build an aviation group along the country's eastern border, fearing a new round of attacks on three oblasts, or administrative regions.

Russian forces are strengthening artillery units, optimising existing command systems, intelligence, and medical support, according to a statement from Ukraine's Defence Ministry.

The statement warned that the Russian army's deployment of missile weapons remains a persistent threat throughout Ukraine.

The Russian occupiers continue to launch systematic missile and bomb strikes on military and civilian infrastructure in Kharkiv, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts

Ukrainian Defence Ministry

Ukraine a 'crime scene': ICC 

"Ukraine is a crime scene," the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor has said on a visit to the town of Bucha west of Kiev, one of several towns where Russia is accused of killing civilians.

Prosecutor Karim Khan said there were "reasonable grounds to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the court are being committed".

The ICC investigates allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and aggression. Russia has denied allegations of targeting civilians.

Ukraine conflict threatens to devastate many poor nations: UN

Russia-Ukraine conflict threatens to devastate the economies of many developing countries that are now facing even higher food and energy costs and increasingly difficult financial conditions, a UN task force has warned.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres released the report saying that the conflict is “supercharging” a crisis in food, energy and finance in poorer countries that were already struggling to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and a lack of access to adequate funding for economic recovery.

The report said 69 of the countries, with a population of 1.2 billion people, face a “perfect storm” and are severely or significantly exposed to all three crises. They include 25 countries in Africa, 25 in Asia and the Pacific, and 19 in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Zelenskyy urges EU to stop ‘sponsoring Russia’s military machine’

Ukraine’s president has called on the European Union to “stop sponsoring Russia’s military machine,” local media reported.

"First of all, we need an oil embargo and a clear readiness by Europe (to give up) all Russian energy sources,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video message, the state news agency Ukrinform reported.

He also warned that Russian forces continue to concentrate their activities in the eastern and southern directions and are making efforts to mobilise residents of the eastern breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

State media: Russian warship 'seriously damaged'

A Russian warship in the Black Sea was "seriously damaged" by an ammunition explosion, Russian state media has said.

"As a result of a fire, ammunition detonated on the Moskva missile cruiser. The ship was seriously damaged," the Russian defence ministry was quoted as saying, adding that the cause of the fire was being determined and that the crew had been evacuated.  

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said that "a surprise happened with the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet", the Moskva. "It burns strongly. Right now. And with this stormy sea, it is unknown whether they will be able to receive help. There are 510 crew members," he said in a YouTube broadcast. 

Zelenskyy thankful for $800M in military aid

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said he's "sincerely thankful" to the US for the new round of $800 million in military assistance. 

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."

For live updates from Wednesday (April 13), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies