War in Ukraine, Day 51 | Russia strikes after the Moskva sinks, Kyiv expects the worst

(Kyiv) Russia bombed a Ukrainian missile maker after losing the flagship of its Black Sea Fleet, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy claimed the war would be much shorter if he got the necessary weapons.

Posted at 7:23am
Updated at 10:32 p.m

Daphne Rousseau
Media Agency France

what you need to know

  • A factory in the Kyiv region that makes Neptun missiles, which the Ukrainian military said hit the Russian cruiser Moscowwas attacked by a Russian strike;
  • Seven people died and 27 others were injured after Russian forces opened fire on buses carrying civilians in the Ukrainian village of Borovaya;
  • The European Union is preparing to end its oil purchases from Russia, but the measure is “complex” and will “take several months,” several European sources confided;
  • More than 5 million people, including nearly 4.8 million Ukrainians, have fled Ukraine;
  • Russia has blocked the Russian version of the site Moscow timesa respected independent media outlet, accused of publishing “false information”.

This 186 meter long rocket ship, the Moscowwas hit by two Ukrainian missiles, the Pentagon said.

A Ukrainian military official went on to claim that, contrary to what Russia has said, her crew — around 500 men, according to available sources — could not be rescued.

Russia, which said that ship was “seriously damaged” by fire and sank while being towed, claimed the crew had been evacuated.


RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY PHOTO VIA RELATED PRESS ARCHIVES

The Russian cruiser Moscow

“We are fully aware that we will not be forgiven for the destruction”. Moscow and hence this blow to Moscow’s “imperial ambitions,” added the spokeswoman for the Military Command of Southern Ukraine, Natalia Goumenyuk.

“We are aware that attacks on us will increase, that the enemy will take revenge, that there will be rocket attacks and artillery shelling,” she continued, reporting on strikes in the south, particularly in the city of Mykolaiv near Odessa .

The loss of Moscow is important because it “provided air cover for the other ships during their operations, especially during coastal bombardment and landing maneuvers,” said spokesman for the Odessa regional military administration Sergei Bratchouk on the subject.

Kyiv fears a nuclear attack

Zelenskyy ruled on Friday that “the whole world” should be “concerned” about the risk that his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, cornered by his military setbacks in Ukraine, will resort to a tactical nuclear weapon.

He echoed statements made by US foreign intelligence chief William Burns, who had assessed the day before that such a threat should not be “taken lightly”.

In this context, Berlin announced on Friday that it was ready to release more than one billion euros in military aid to Ukraine.

In doing so, the German government wants to counter the growing criticism of the Ukrainian authorities, but also some partners in the European Union such as Poland or the Baltic states, for the apparent lack of arms support for Kyiv, and even its complacency with regard to Moscow.

In a video message, President Zelenskyy said to Westerners: “You can make the war much shorter. The sooner and in greater quantity we receive the requested weapons, the stronger our position will be and the sooner peace will come.”

On site, Russia set the tone on Friday morning.


PHOTO FADEL SENNA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The facade of one building in the complex collapsed after being hit by the Russian strike.

“The number and scale of rocket attacks on sites in Kyiv will increase in response to all terrorist attacks and acts of sabotage carried out on Russian territory by the nationalist regime in Kyiv,” the Russian Defense Ministry warned.

An arms factory in the Kyiv region was hit by a Russian attack, AFP journalists noted on Friday.

The Vizar factory makes the Neptun anti-ship missiles, which the Ukrainians say they fired at the Moscow River.

The Russians carried out three strikes in the Kyiv region on Friday, its governor Alexander Pavliuk noted, without specifying whether this included the attack on that Vyshnevé factory.

An official at the Russian National Defense Center, Mikhail Mizintsev, said in a statement that authorities in Kyiv are planning a “new egregious provocation” to accuse Russian forces of committing war crimes.

Moscow has repeatedly blamed Kyiv for deadly attacks on Ukrainian civilians, such as in Kramatorsk and Mariupol.

According to him, Ukrainian troops are preparing to hit civilians who have gathered at the Lozova station with a Tochka-U missile to flee the fighting in the Kharkiv region (east).

Targeted Cars

Russia has previously claimed that the cruiser Moskva suffered a fire and explosions of its own ammunition on Wednesday, the day before it sank.


PHOTO FELIPE DANA, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Vadim Krikun is treated in the corridor of his building after a Russian attack in Kharkiv.

She also announced on Thursday that Ukraine had bombed Russian border villages, in particular with attack helicopters.

Kyiv denied this and in turn accused the Russian secret services of having carried out “terrorist attacks” on the other side of the border.

In Boutcha, a place near Kyiv that has become a symbol of atrocities attributed to Russian forces, 95% of the dead found were shot, police chief of the capital region Andriï Nebitov denounced on Friday.

According to the mayor of Boutcha Anatoly Fedoruk, more than 400 bodies have been discovered there since the Russian troops left.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said nearly 2,900 civilians were evacuated from Mariupol and Berdyansk to Zaporizhia on Friday.

Strikes in the Donbass

In the largest region of Donbass, Donetsk, where “fighting is going on along the entire front line,” three people were killed and seven injured, the Ukrainian presidency said.

The other region of this mining basin, that of Luhansk, was the scene of 24 bombings, leaving two dead and two wounded, according to the same source.

On Friday evening, the mayor of the city of Aleksandria, around 300 kilometers south-east of Kyiv, posted on Facebook that a Russian missile had hit his city’s airport. He said rescue teams were at work, but without immediately claiming casualties.

However, Russia, whose announced massive offensive in Donbass has still not started, is struggling to take full control of Mariupol.


PHOTOPAVEL KLIMOV, REUTERS

Mariupol (southeast) could see the heaviest human toll of this war in the near future.

The heaviest human toll of the war was recorded at this point in time in this strategic port city in the south-east. The Ukrainian authorities spoke of around 20,000 dead.

This martyr city, which AFP was able to visit during a press trip organized by the Russian army this week, suffered a deluge of fire that devastated infrastructure and the homes of the half million people who lived there when Vladimir Putin launched his offensive against Ukraine on February 24th.

Today, more than forty days later, fighting is confined to the vast industrial area near the coast as Russian forces and Donetsk rebels have gradually tightened their grip.

World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley on Friday, after visiting Ukraine, called for access to conflict zones and besieged cities where some are “starving”.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, more than five million people have fled the country since February 24.

“War is everywhere,” lamented Pope Francis, who had unsuccessfully asked for an Easter ceasefire in Ukraine, on Rai, the Italian public radio and television broadcaster, on Friday.

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