Ukrainian forces on Thursday said they struck a Russian flagship in the Black Sea, marking the first time they damaged a ship at sea rather than in a port.
The Moskva, a 510-crew warship, is a key target because it has led Russia’s naval assault on Ukraine, according to the BBC.
Russia said there was an explosion on the ship but claimed a fire caused ammunition to explode.
The Russian Defense Ministry said crew members were evacuated.
It was the latest major flashpoint in Russia’s attempt to build a land bridge from its territory to the Crimean peninsula it annexed in 2014.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is turning his invasion of Ukraine into a more focused assault on the eastern Donbas region, but resistance in the southeastern city of Mariupol might exhaust Russia’s forces, British intelligence officials said Thursday.
Urban centers such as Kramatorsk and Kostiantynivka are likely to be the next targets of “indiscriminate attacks” from Russia, according to the U.K. Ministry of Defence.
“The combination of widespread missile and artillery strikes and efforts to concentrate forces for an offensive represents a reversion to traditional Russian military doctrine,” the ministry tweeted. “However, this will require significant force levels. Ukraine’s continued defense of Mariupol is currently tying down significant numbers of Russian troops and equipment.”
President Biden on Wednesday said the U.S. will provide more than $800 million in weapons, ammunition and other security aid to Ukraine.