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Russian warship destroyed at Sea of Azov port, Ukrainian naval forces say

Ukraine's navy reported on Thursday that it had destroyed a Russian warship in the Sea of Azov, docked at the occupied Ukrainian port city of Berdyansk.

Ship was reportedly transporting armoured vehicles to occupied Ukrainian city

Smoke rises after shelling near a seaport in Berdyansk, Ukraine, on Thursday. Ukraine's navy said it had sunk the Russian warship Orsk, docked at the port in the occupied city in southeastern Ukraine. The ship was reportedly transporting Russian armoured vehicles. (The Associated Press)

The latest:

  • Ukraine says it has destroyed a Russian ship in Sea of Azov. 
  • NATO lays out plan for more Ukraine support, stronger alliance.
  • Alliance approves more battle groups in eastern Europe.
  • U.S. to welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians fleeing war, sources say.

Ukraine's navy reported on Thursday that it had destroyed a Russian warship in the Sea of Azov, docked at the occupied Ukrainian port city of Berdyansk.

The Navy of the Armed Forces of Ukraine released photos and video on Facebook of fire and thick smoke coming from the port area. Russia did not immediately comment on the claim.

Russia has been in possession of the port in southern Ukraine since Feb. 27 — a few days after Russia's invasion of the country began — and the ship had disembarked armoured vehicles there on Monday for use in Moscow's offensive, the Zvezda TV channel of the Russian Defence Ministry said earlier this week.

According to the report, the ship was the first Russian ship to enter Berdyansk, which is about 80 kilometres west along the coast from the besieged city of Mariupol. The vessel was initially identified in the report as the Orsk. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine later named the destroyed ship as the Saratov.

Ukraine also claimed two more ships were damaged and a 2,721-tonne fuel tank was destroyed when the Saratov was sunk, causing a fire that spread to nearby ammunition supplies.

The Russian Navy's landing ship Orsk is seen on Jan. 24, 2022, in the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, Turkey, on its way to the Black Sea. (Yoruk Isik/Reuters)

When Russia unleashed its invasion Feb. 24 in Europe's biggest offensive since the Second World War, a swift toppling of Ukraine's government seemed likely. But a month into the fighting, Moscow is bogged down in a grinding military campaign of attrition after meeting fierce Ukrainian resistance.

Zelensky calls for global protest

In Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky called on people worldwide to gather in public on Thursday to show support for his embattled country as he prepared to address U.S. President Joe Biden and other NATO leaders gathered in Brussels on the one-month anniversary of the Russian invasion.

WATCH | Zelensky calls on people around the world to show support for Ukraine: 

Zelensky's message to the world: show 'Ukraine matters'

3 months ago
Duration 0:57
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made an appeal in English for people to show their support that 'Freedom matters. Peace matters. Ukraine matters.'

"Come to your squares, your streets. Make yourselves visible and heard," Zelensky said in English during an emotional video address late Wednesday that was recorded in the dark near the presidential offices in Kyiv. "Say that people matter. Freedom matters. Peace matters. Ukraine matters."

In response, thousands of people took to the streets of Bulgaria's capital, Sofia, on Thursday.

Some of the 60,000 refugees from Ukraine joined the demonstration, which was organized on social media following Zelensky's call. Waving Ukrainian and European flags, protesters chanted "Stop the war," "Stop Putin" and "Freedom for democratic Ukraine."

The organizers of the event said that it was time for Bulgaria to come out in large numbers in support of a sovereign Ukraine.

A woman holds a poster reading 'Stop War' during a mass demonstration against Russia's invasion of Ukraine in Sofia, Bulgaria, Thursday. (Valentina Petrova/The Associated Press)

To keep up the pressure on Russia, Zelensky spoke to NATO members in a video address on Thursday, asking the alliance to provide "effective and unrestricted" support to Ukraine, including weapons, tanks, planes, rockets and air defence systems.

Citing a long list of weaponry he said is vital for his country's survival, the Ukrainian leader asked NATO leaders for "military assistance without limitations," telling them that Ukrainian forces are "in a grey area, between the West and Russia, defending our common values."

"This is the scariest thing during a war — not to have clear answers to requests for help," Zelensky said.

Nurses tend to Milena, a 13 year-old girl who was hit by a bullet as she was evacuating from Mariupol with her family, in a room protected by sandbags at the Zaporizhzhia Regional Clinical Children's Hospital on Tuesday. Thousands of refugees from Mariupol have fled to Zaporizhzhia, about 225 km northwest of the city. (Emre Caylak/AFP/Getty Images)

NATO continuing to impose 'costs' on Russia

Around the capital, Kyiv, and other areas, Ukrainian defenders have fought Moscow's ground troops to a near-stalemate, raising fears that a frustrated Russian President Vladimir Putin will resort to chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.

Opening the NATO summit in Brussels, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance is "determined to continue to impose unprecedented costs on Russia, and we will reinforce allied deterrence and defence."

A Ukrainian firefighter sprays water inside a house destroyed by shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday. (Vadim Ghirda/The Associated Press)

"Leaders approved our four new battle groups, in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. These are in addition to the four already in the Baltic countries and Poland. So we have eight multinational NATO battle groups now, from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea," he said. 

Such groups usually number from 1,000 to 1,500 troops each.

"Allies are also equipping Ukraine with significant military supplies, including anti-tank and air defence systems and drones, which are proving highly effective."

WATCH | 'Determined to do all we can to support Ukraine,' says NATO chief: 

'Determined to do all we can to support Ukraine,' says NATO chief

3 months ago
Duration 6:01
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg emerged from a meeting with NATO leaders and announced further support for Ukraine and plans for a longer term 'new security reality.'

Stoltenberg said NATO leaders agreed to send equipment to Ukraine to help protect it against a chemical weapons attack.

"This could include detection equipment, protection and medical support, as well as training for decontamination and crisis management," he told reporters.

Canada imposes more sanctions

Canada was among the countries gathered that also announced new sanctions. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would continue to increase its defence spending as he announced the new sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

"Canada will be increasing pressure by sanctioning 160 members of the Russian Federation Council who facilitated and enabled this unjustified invasion," Trudeau told reporters after a NATO summit in Brussels.

WATCH | Trudeau announces Canada's latest commitments related to Ukraine: 

Trudeau announces sanctions on 160 members of the Russian Federation Council

3 months ago
Duration 1:47
The prime minister unveiled an additional 160 sanctions during the NATO summit in Belgium.

The Biden administration announced more sanctions targeting 48 state-owned defence companies, 328 members of the Duma, Russia's lower parliament, and dozens of Russian elites. The Duma as an entity was also named in the new sanctions.

Biden, who was attending all three summits, said more aid was on its way. But Western leaders also suggested they were treading carefully so as not to further escalate the conflict beyond the borders of Ukraine.

"NATO has made a choice to support Ukraine in this war without going to war with Russia," said French President Emmanuel Macron. "Therefore we have decided to intensify our ongoing work to prevent any escalation and to get organized in case there is an escalation."

Biden said his top priority at Thursday's meetings was to make certain that the West stayed on the same page in its response to Russian aggression against Ukraine.

"The single most important thing is for us to stay unified," Biden said.

Separately, the White House announced the U.S. would welcome 100,000 Ukrainian refugees and provide an additional $1 billion US in food, medicine, water and other supplies.

A Ukrainian serviceman carries a fragment of a rocket outside a building in Kyiv on Thursday after it was destroyed by shelling. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images)

More than 3.6 million people have fled since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, according to the United Nations.

In Przemysl, a Polish town where tens of thousands of refugees have been arriving daily, 66-year-old Nelya Kot from Chernihiv said that one month after the war started, people in the city in northern Ukraine are drinking water from the Desna river to survive.

"Today, there is no water, no gas, no electricity [in Chernihiv]," Kot said. "People are in total isolation."

WATCH | Number of Ukrainian refugees brought to Canada unclear: 

Number of Ukrainian refugees brought to Canada unclear

3 months ago
Duration 3:42
Canada has promised to host an unlimited number of Ukrainians fleeing the war for at least three years, but it's unclear how many have come to Canada one month in.

At the central station in the western city of Lviv, a teenage girl stood in the doorway of a waiting train, a white pet rabbit shivering in her arms. She was on her way to join her mother and then go on to Poland or Germany. She had been travelling alone, leaving other family members behind in Dnipro.

"At the beginning I didn't want to leave," she said. "Now I'm scared for my life."

WATCH | Lining up for food in the besieged city of Mariupol: 

Drone video shows people lining up for humanitarian aid in Mariupol

3 months ago
Duration 0:28
Video from a drone shows a long queue of residents in Mariupol, Ukraine, waiting for humanitarian aid outside a former shopping centre.

Ukraine and Russia exchanged a total of 50 military and civilian prisoners, the largest swap reported yet, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Thursday.

Russia claimed to have taken the eastern town of Izyum after fierce fighting.

In Chernihiv, where an airstrike this week destroyed a crucial bridge, a city official, Olexander Lomako, said a "humanitarian catastrophe" is unfolding as Russian forces target food storage places. He said about 130,000 people are left in the besieged city, about half its pre-war population.

  • What questions do you have about Russia's invasion of Ukraine? Send an email to ask@cbc.ca
A school building damaged in shelling in Chernihiv earlier this month. About half the besieged city's population has left as Russian forces continue to shell civilian targets, including food storage, according to city official Olexander Lomako. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images)

Front line 'practically frozen'

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said on Thursday that in many areas Russian troops did not have enough resources to push ahead with their offensive in Ukraine, leading to a slowdown in hostilities.

"The front line is practically frozen," he said in a televised address. "The enemy in very many areas does not have the resources to continue the offensive."

Sending a signal that Western sanctions have not brought it to its knees, Russia reopened its stock market but allowed only limited trading to prevent mass sell-offs. Foreigners were barred from selling, and traders were prohibited from short selling, or betting prices would fall.

Women from Kharkiv are reunited with their friend from Chernihiv at the border crossing in Siret, Romania, on Tuesday. (Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters)

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said the warship destroyed in Berdyansk was named the Orsk. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine later identified the ship as the Saratov.
    Mar 25, 2022 11:18 AM ET

With files from Reuters

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