Russia threatens new strikes against kyiv after loss of warship

The Russian Defense Ministry has threatened to increase the scale of missile strikes against the Ukrainian capital kyiv, a day after the sinking of the Moskva, the flagship of its Black Sea Fleet.

Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the ministry, said on Friday that Russia would step up its attacks on targets in kyiv in response to any new attempts by Ukrainian forces to carry out “sabotage” on Russian soil.

The threat came a day after Russia admitted it had lost the Moskva missile cruiser – arguably the biggest setback of its 50-day spraying campaign – as it prepares for a fresh offensive in the southeast of Ukraine.

Russia said on Thursday the ship sank in a storm after a fire on board ignited its ammunition stores. Ukraine said it sank the ship after hitting the Moskva with one of its cruise missiles. US defense officials said they were unable to confirm what happened.

On Thursday night, airborne warning sirens sounded in cities across Ukraine, and loud booms sounded in kyiv.

The sinking of the Moskva was greeted with jubilation in Ukraine. Resistance to the ship became an early symbol of the struggle against Russia when Ukrainian troops, ordered by the Moskva to surrender, responded by saying, “Russian military ship, fuck you.”

Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov posted a photo of himself diving on Twitter and said: “A ‘flagship’ Russian warship is a worthy dive site. We now have one more dive spot in the Black Sea. I will definitely visit the wreck after we win the war.

Russia has not admitted that Ukraine hit the ship. Instead, he framed the strikes as a response to what he claims were a series of increasingly daring raids behind enemy lines, including an apparent attack on a railroad bridge over a crucial supply route near of Belgorod.

On Friday, Russia claimed to have destroyed one of several helicopters it said attacked a village in Bryansk, another border region, where investigators said two residential buildings were destroyed and eight people injured.

Ukraine has not taken responsibility for the attacks, which some analysts believe President Vladimir Putin could use as a pretext to expand the invasion.

Ukraine’s military said Russia was gathering forces for an assault on the east of the country. “The enemy continues to focus its efforts on preparations for an offensive operation on eastern Ukraine and the seizure of the territory of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and the creation of a so-called land corridor with . . . Crimea,” Defense Ministry spokesman Colonel Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said at a press briefing on Friday.

He added that the Russian military continued to use rockets to strike Ukrainian civilian infrastructure and that on Thursday two strategic bombers from the airspace above Krasnodar in southern Russia launched missiles from cruise on Ukrainian territory.

Motuzyanyk also said that for the first time since the start of the war, Russia used Tupolev 2 and Tupolev long-range bombers in the besieged city of Mariupol.

As Russia regroups in an attempt to seize the eastern border region of Donbass, the Kremlin’s justifications and goals for the war continue to shift, opening the door to a further broadening of the offensive.

Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, told reporters on Friday that “the most important thing is to release [Ukraine] of these nationalist battalions,” far-right fringe groups that Russia says have taken over the Ukrainian government.

“The operation is continuing and the tasks ahead are well known. They must and will be completed. There should be no doubt,” Peskov said, according to Interfax.

Natalia Humeniuk, spokeswoman for the Ukrainian army in the south of the country, said on Friday that Mykolaiv, a strategic city in the south under Ukrainian control, was bombarded in what she described as retaliation for the sinking of the Moskva.

“The situation in southern Ukraine is indeed tense,” Humeniuk told a press briefing. “Stable but tense.”

“When the Moscow cruiser was hit, it didn’t just affect the ships, it affected Russia’s imperial ambitions, and of course we understand that they won’t forget, they won’t forgive,” he said. Humeniuk said.

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