The Russian defense ministry has said the entire crew of the warship Moskva, reported to be struck by Ukraine in the Black Sea late on Wednesday, has been evacuated after an ammunition explosion resulted in a fire on the ship. “The cruiser Moskva of the Black Sea Fleet was seriously damaged as a result of the detonation of ammunition that occurred as a result of a fire, the crew was evacuated,” Russian state media outlet TASS reported, citing the Russian defense ministry. The ship was defended by Ukrainian troops on Snake Island at the start of the war.
A Ukrainian official earlier said the Moskva had been hit by two missiles but did not give any evidence. The 12,500-tonne ship has a crew of about 500.
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy called for an oil embargo in his nightly address on Wednesday. “First of all, we need an oil though. And Europe’s clear readiness to give up all Russian energy. The European Union must stop sponsoring Russia’s military machine.”
Zelenskiy confirmed forensic experts from the international criminal court visited Bucha on Wednesday to investigate possible war crimes. “Responsibility for the Russian military for war crimes is unavoidable. We will drag them all to court. And not only for what was done in Bucha.”
US President Joe Biden announced an additional $800m in military assistance to Ukraine including heavy artillery ahead of a wider Russian assault expected in eastern Ukraine. The package, which brings the total military aid since Russian forces invaded in February to more than $2.5bn, includes artillery systems, artillery rounds, armored personnel carriers and unmanned coastal defense boats, Biden said in a statement after a phone call with Zelenskiy.
The US state department on Wednesday defended Biden’s charge that Russia is carrying out a genocide in Ukraine, saying its forces are trying to destroy the country and its civilian population. Biden leveled the accusation at president Vladimir Putin’s forces for the first time on Tuesday. “I am going to predict that what president Biden called it is what we will ultimately likely find when we are able to gather all of this evidence,” the state department’s number three official, Victoria Nuland, said on CNN. “Because what is happening on the ground is not an accident.”
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has declined to repeat Biden’s accusation that Russia was carrying out “genocide” against Ukrainians, warning that verbal escalations would not help end the war. The US president said on Tuesday it had “become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being able to be a Ukrainian”. In response, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov described Biden’s comments as “unacceptable”.
More than 1,000 Ukrainian marines defending the besieged port city of Mariupol have surrendered, Moscow has claimed. In one of the most critical battles of the war, Russia’s defense ministry said on Wednesday that 1,026 soldiers from Ukraine’s 36th Marine Brigade, including 162 officers, had “voluntarily laid down their arms” near the city’s Ilyich iron and steelworks. There was no independent confirmation of the claim.
The Russian retreat from around Kyiv has led to the discovery of large numbers of apparently massacred civilians, drawing international condemnation and calls for a war crimes investigation. The Kyiv district police chief said the bodies of 765 civilians, including 30 children had been found around the capital.
Russian troops are reportedly suffering from “low morale and disenchantment” among some of the younger troops. While speaking at a press conference today, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby also said that Russian troop leaders were “frustrated” as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues.
The presidents of four countries bordering Russia – Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia – have traveled to Kyiv in a show of support for their Ukrainian counterpart and his embattled troops. It follows Kyiv’s reported refusal to meet the German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who visited Poland on Tuesday and said he had planned to go on to Ukraine but “was not wanted”. The former German foreign minister is facing heavy criticism for his past policy of rapprochement towards Moscow.
Zelenskiy told Estonian MPs, without providing evidence, that Russia was using phosphorus bombs in Ukraine. Ukrainian forces in Mariupol said a drone had dropped a poisonous substance on the city, but there has been no independent confirmation that Russia used banned chemical weapons.
In a speech at the Atlantic Council on Wednesday, US treasury secretary Janet Yellen said that countries on the fence of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine could face global isolation. “The unified coalition of sanctioning countries will not be indifferent to actions that undermine the sanctions we’ve put in place.”
Finland’s prime minister, Sanna Marin, said the country would decide on whether to apply for Nato membership “within weeks”. Speaking at a joint news conference with her Swedish counterpart, Marin said that as a Nato partner – but not a member – Finland was not covered under article 5, which states that an attack on one member should be considered an attack on all.
The UK government has imposed sanctions on another 206 individuals in response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, including 178 people it said were involved in propping up the self-proclaimed republics in Luhansk and Donetsk. Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, said the latest sanctions were imposed in a direct response to the “horrific rocket attacks” on a train station in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, that killed dozens of civilians.
Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, said it was not possible to open any humanitarian corridors on Wednesday. She said the situation along the routes was “too dangerous”, and accused Russian forces of violating an agreement to stop shooting while people escape.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism