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Russia says crippled warship to be towed back to port, as Ukraine claims missile hit

Russia's defense ministry said the fire on the Soviet-era missile cruiser Moskva had been contained, but left the ship badly damaged. It did not acknowledge the ship had been attacked and said the cause of the fire was under investigation.

A Ukrainian boy waves out of a window to say goodbye to his father as he flees the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in front of a complex, set up as a shelter organised by volunteers, in Zaporizhzhya
A Ukrainian boy waves out of a window to say goodbye to his father as he flees the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in front of a complex, set up as a shelter organized by volunteers, in Zaporizhzhya, Ukraine, on April 13, 2022.
UESLEI MARCELINO/REUTERS
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KYIV/LVIV, Ukraine — Russia said the crew of its Black Sea fleet flagship were evacuated on Thursday and measures were being taken to tow the ship back to port after an explosion of ammunition on board that Ukraine said was caused by a missile strike.

Russia's defense ministry said the fire on the Soviet-era missile cruiser Moskva had been contained, but left the ship badly damaged. It did not acknowledge the ship had been attacked and said the cause of the fire was under investigation.

Ukraine's southern military command said that it hit the warship with a Ukrainian-made Neptune anti-ship missile and that it had started to sink.

Reuters was unable to verify either side's statements.

The loss or disabling of the Moskva would be another blow for Russia — on the 50th day of its war in Ukraine — as it readies for a new assault in the eastern Donbas region that is likely to define the outcome of the conflict.

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Russia's navy has launched cruise missiles into Ukraine and its activities in the Black Sea are crucial to supporting land operations in the south of the country, where it is battling to seize full control of the port of Mariupol.

Russian news agencies said the Moskva, commissioned in 1983, was armed with 16 anti-ship Vulkan cruise missiles with a range of at least 440 miles.

Kyiv says the Moskva featured in one of the landmark early exchanges of the war, when Ukrainian border guards on Snake Island, a small outcrop in the Black Sea, told the ship to "Go f--- yourself" after it demanded they surrender.

A woman sits in front of a damaged residential building in Mariupol
A woman sits in front of a residential building damaged in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict, on a rainy day in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine on April 13, 2022.
ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO/REUTERS

'MASSING TROOPS'

Russian forces have pulled back from some northern parts of Ukraine after suffering heavy losses and failing to take the capital Kyiv. Ukraine and its Western allies say Moscow is redeploying for a new offensive.

"Russian forces are increasing their activities on the southern and eastern fronts, attempting to avenge their defeats," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a Wednesday night video address.

Ukraine's Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar said in televised comments on Thursday that Russia was massing troops not only along the Russia-Ukraine border, but also in Belarus and Moldova's breakaway Transdniestria region.

Authorities in Transdniestria, which borders southern Ukraine, have previously denied Russia was preparing forces there to deploy in Ukraine.

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The Kharkiv, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions in the country's east were being hit by missile strikes, Malyar said. Kharkiv's governor said four civilians had been killed by shelling.

Russia said on Wednesday that more than 1,000 Ukrainian marines from one of the scattered units still holding out in the shattered city had surrendered. Ukrainian officials did not comment.

If it is taken, Mariupol — Ukraine's main Sea of Azov port that has been besieged and bombarded for weeks — would be the first major city to fall to Russian forces since they invaded on Feb. 24.

Its capture would allow Russia to reinforce a land corridor between separatist-held eastern areas and the Crimea region it seized and annexed in 2014, and free up forces for a wider offensive.

Russia's attack of Ukraine continues in Kharkiv
Local Valentina, 69, mourns over the body of her son Sergiy, 41, in their destroyed apartment, following an artillery attack, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on April 13, 2022.
ALKIS KONSTANTINIDIS/REUTERS

HUMANITARIAN CORRIDORS

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said nine humanitarian corridors had been agreed on for Thursday to evacuate civilians, including by private car, from Mariupol.

Ukraine says tens of thousands of people are believed to have been killed in Mariupol.

Mariupol's mayor, Vadym Boichenko, said Russia had brought in mobile crematoria "to get rid of evidence of war crimes" — a statement that it was not possible to verify independently.

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Moscow has blamed Ukraine for civilian deaths and accused Kyiv of denigrating Russian armed forces.

In the village of Lubianka northwest of Kyiv, from where Russian forces had tried and failed to subdue the capital before retreating, a message to Ukrainians had been written on the wall of a house that had been occupied by Russian troops.

Poland's President Duda, Lithuania's President Nauseda, Latvia's President Levits, Estonia's President Karisand and Ukraine's PM Shmyhal visit the village of Dmytrivka
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, Polish President Andrzej Duda, Latvian President Egils Levits, Estonian President Alar Karis and Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal visit the village of Dmytrivka, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv region, Ukraine on April 13, 2022.
UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENTAL PRESS SER/via REUTERS

"We did not want this ... forgive us," it said.

The Kremlin says it launched a "special military operation" to demilitarize and "liberate" Ukraine from nationalist extremists, a message villagers said had been repeated to them by the Russian troops.

"To liberate us from what? We're peaceful ... We're Ukrainians," Lubianka resident Viktor Shaposhnikov said.

A mission of experts set up by Organization for Security and Cooperation and Europe (OSCE) nations said on Wednesday it had found evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity by Russia in Ukraine.

Russia has denied targeting civilians and said some reports have been staged for propaganda purposes.

Andriy Nyebytov, head of the Kyiv region police, said more than 800 bodies had been found in three districts which had been occupied by Russian forces.

"We are finding terrible things: buried and hidden bodies of people who were tortured and shot, and who died as a result of mortar and artillery fire," Nyebytov said in televised comments. His statements could not immediately be verified.

Russia's attack of Ukraine continues in Kharkiv
A woman reacts as she hugs another woman outside a heavily damaged apartment block, following an artillery attack, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on April 13, 2022.
ALKIS KONSTANTINIDIS/REUTERS

RUSSIA ISOLATED

Moscow's incursion, the biggest attack on a European state since 1945, has seen more than 4.6 million people flee abroad, killed or wounded thousands and left Russia increasingly isolated on the world stage.

Western-led sanctions have triggered the worst economic crisis in Russia since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, say analysts. More than 600 companies, including McDonalds, have announced their withdrawal from Russia, which will directly cause the loss of about 1 million jobs.

Overall, 2.6 million people may fall below Russia's official poverty line this year, the World Bank estimates.

The conflict has also galvanized NATO and prompted Russia's neighbors Sweden and Finland to discuss joining the Western military alliance.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council and one of President Vladimir Putin's closest allies, warned on Thursday that such a move would force Russia to bolster its defenses in the Baltic region, including by deploying nuclear weapons.

(Additional reporting by Natalia Zinets and Elizabeth Piper in Kyiv, Max Hunder in London, David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Reuters bureaus; writing by Michael Perry and Alex Richardson; editing by Stephen Coates and Hugh Lawson.)

Ukrainian children take part in a therapy session with a therapeutic dog, in a complex set up as a shelter organised by volunteers, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhya
Ukrainian children take part in a therapy session with a therapeutic dog, in a complex set up as a shelter organized by volunteers, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhya, Ukraine, on April 13, 2022.
UESLEI MARCELINO/REUTERS

Related Topics: UKRAINERUSSIANATO
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