Explosions heard in Kyiv after damaged Russian warship sinks

Powerful explosions were heard in Kyiv early on Friday, and air raid sirens blared across Ukraine as residents braced for new Russian attacks after Moscow's lead warship in the Black Sea sank following a fire.

Russia doesn't acknowledge Ukraine attack on ship but says crew forced to evacuate

Ukraine claims missile attack on key Russian warship in blow for Moscow

4 months ago
Duration 2:21
Russia’s flagship in its Black Sea fleet — the Moskva — was destroyed by two Ukrainian missiles, Ukraine’s military claims. The damage deals a major blow to Russia’s navy, reducing its ability to launch an amphibious assault.

The latest:

  • Loud blasts heard in Kyiv after Ukraine claims responsibility for attack on Russian warship.
  • Russian troops regrouping for renewed offensive in Eastern Ukraine.
  • Kharkiv, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions being hit by missile strikes, deputy defence minister says.
  • Canadian troops being deployed to Poland on humanitarian mission.

Powerful explosions were heard in Kyiv early on Friday, and air raid sirens blared across Ukraine as residents braced for new Russian attacks after Moscow's lead warship in the Black Sea sank following a fire.

The explosions appeared to be among the most significant in Ukraine's capital region since Russian troops pulled back from the area earlier this month in preparation for battles in the south and east.

The blasts came hours after the flagship of Russia's Black Sea fleet, a guided-missile cruiser that became a potent target of Ukrainian defiance in the opening days of the war, sank after it was heavily damaged in the latest setback for Moscow's invasion.

Ukraine claimed responsibility for sinking the Moskva, saying the Soviet-era flagship of Russia's Black Sea fleet was struck by one of its missiles. The vessel sank late on Thursday as it was being towed to port, Russia's defence ministry said.

The loss of the warship named for the Russian capital would be a major military and symbolic defeat for Russia, as its troops regroup for a renewed offensive in Eastern Ukraine after retreating from much of the north, including Ukraine's capital, Kyiv.

Russia earlier said the flames on the ship, which would typically have 500 sailors on board, forced the entire crew to evacuate. It later said the fire had been contained and that the ship would be towed to port with its missile launchers intact.

In this November 2021 file photo, the Russian navy's guided-missile cruiser, Moskva, sails back into a harbour after tracking NATO warships in the Black Sea, in the port of Sevastopol, Crimea. (Alexey Pavlishak/Reuters)

The ship had the capacity to carry 16 long-range cruise missiles, and its removal from combat would greatly reduce Russia's firepower in the Black Sea. Loss of the ship would represent a major blow to Russian prestige in a war that is already widely seen as a historic blunder.

Zelensky speaks of sunken ship

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky alluded to the sunken warship in an early morning video address in which he warned of Russian intentions to target the eastern Donbas region, including Mariupol.

Zelenskiy paid homage to all "those who halted the progress of the endless convoys of Russian military equipment ... Those who showed that Russian ships can go ... down to the bottom."

There were no immediate reports of damage following the explosions reported in Kyiv, Kherson in the south, the eastern city of Kharkiv and the town of Ivano-Frankivsk in the west. Ukrainian media reported electricity outages in parts of Kyiv.

Air raid sirens went off in all regions of Ukraine just after midnight on Friday and continued blaring in the eastern regions of Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia even after those elsewhere went quiet, Ukrainian media said.

Reuters could not immediately verify the reports.

WATCH | Canadian doctor returns from treating the wounded in Ukraine: 

Montreal ER physician describes treating wounded in Ukraine

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Montreal physician Joanne Lui describes the 'human tragedy that we saw over and over again,' while treating the injured in Dnipro, Ukraine.

Now entering its eighth week, Russia's invasion has stalled because of resistance from Ukrainian fighters, bolstered by weapons and other aid sent by Western nations.

During the first days of the war, the Moskva was reportedly the warship that called on Ukrainian soldiers stationed on Snake Island in the Black Sea to surrender in a standoff. In a widely circulated recording, a soldier responded: "Russian warship, go f--k yourself."

The Associated Press could not independently verify the incident, but Ukraine and its supporters consider it an iconic moment of defiance. The country recently unveiled a postage stamp commemorating it.

A woman cries inside a bunker in Popasna, in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region, on Thursday amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)

Conflicting reports from Mariupol

News of the ship's damage also overshadowed Russian claims of advances in the southern port city of Mariupol, where they have been battling the Ukrainians since the early days of the invasion in some of the heaviest fighting of the war — at a horrific cost to civilians.

Russian Defence Ministry spokesperson Maj.-Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Wednesday that 1,026 troops from the Ukrainian 36th Marine Brigade surrendered at a metals factory in the city. But Vadym Denysenko, adviser to Ukraine's interior minister, rejected the claim, telling Current Time TV that "the battle over the seaport is still ongoing today."

It was unclear when or over what time period a surrender may have occurred or how many forces were still defending Mariupol.

Russian state television broadcast footage on Wednesday that it said was from Mariupol showed dozens of men in camouflage walking with their hands up and carrying others on stretchers or in chair holds. One man held a white flag.

In this still image taken from video that Russian TV released on Wednesday, soldiers carry a wounded man on a stretcher as they display a white flag in a location given as Mariupol, Ukraine. The report said the video shows Ukrainian marines surrendering in Mariupol. Reuters could not independently confirm the surrender and authenticity of the Russian TV footage. (RURTR/Handout/Reuters TV)

Mariupol has been the scene of some of the war's worst suffering. Dwindling numbers of Ukrainian defenders are holding out against a Russian siege that has trapped well over 100,000 civilians in desperate need of food, water and heating.

The mayor said on Monday that more than 10,000 civilians have died in the siege and that the death toll could surpass 20,000. Weeks of attacks and privation left bodies "carpeted through the streets," he said.

Mariupol's capture is critical for Russia, because it would put a swath of territory in its control that would allow its forces in the south, who came up through the annexed Crimean Peninsula, to link up with troops in the eastern Donbas region, Ukraine's industrial heartland and the target of the coming offensive.

WATCH | Battle for Mariupol 'not over yet,' says analyst: 

Battle for Mariupol 'not over yet,' says defence industry analyst

4 months ago
Duration 3:58
Former British army officer Nicholas Drummond says trying to take control of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol will be costly for the Russians with 'no easy victory.' There are three key points of resistance in the city and up to 3,000 Ukrainian troops still remaining that are tying up a significant number of Russian troops, he says.

The Russian military continues to move helicopters and other equipment together for such an effort, according to a senior U.S. defence official, and it will likely add more ground combat units "over coming days." But it's still unclear when Russia could launch a bigger offensive in the Donbas.

Moscow-backed separatists have been battling Ukraine in the Donbas since 2014, the same year Russia seized Crimea. Russia has recognized the independence of the rebel regions in the Donbas, though the move has been met with widespread condemnation from the West.

But the loss of the Moskva could delay any new, wide-ranging offensive.

Maksym Marchenko, governor of the Odesa region, which sits across the Black Sea to the northwest of Sevastopol, said the Ukrainians struck the guided-missile cruiser with two Neptune missiles and caused "serious damage." 

Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukraine's president, then said the ship sank, calling it an event of "colossal significance."

Russia's Defence Ministry said ammunition on board detonated as a result of a fire, without saying what caused the fire. It said the "main missile weapons" were not damaged. In addition to the cruise missiles, the warship also had air-defence missiles and other guns.

The Neptune is an anti-ship missile that was recently developed by Ukraine and is based on an earlier Soviet design. The launchers are mounted on trucks stationed near the coast, and according to the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, the missiles can hit targets up to 280 kilometres away. That would have put the Moskva within range, based on where the fire began.

A Ukrainian serviceman looks on as workers exhume bodies from a mass grave in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, on Thursday. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images)
A local resident walks past a damaged vehicle marked with the letter Z, which has become a symbol of the Russian military, in an area that Russian-backed separatists claim to control in Mariupol on Wednesday. (Alexei Alexandrov/The Associated Press)

The U.S. was not able to confirm Ukraine's claims of striking the warship, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Thursday. Still, he called it "a big blow to Russia."

"They've had to kind of choose between two stories: One story is that it was just incompetence, and the other was that they came under attack, and neither is a [particularly] good outcome for them," Sullivan told the Economic Club of Washington.

War enters 8th week

Russia invaded on Feb. 24 with the goal of rapidly seizing Kyiv, toppling the government and installing a Moscow-friendly replacement, according to Western officials. The conflict has killed untold numbers of Ukrainian civilians and forced millions more to flee.

WATCH | Ukraine appeals for more weapons: 

Ukraine appeals for military equipment ahead of looming Russian assault

4 months ago
Duration 2:02
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a plea for military equipment — such as weapons, armed vehicles and combat aircraft — as the country’s armed forces prepare to adopt a more nimble approach against heavy Russian attacks in the Donbas region.

Also Thursday, Russian authorities accused Ukraine of sending two low-flying military helicopters across the border and firing on residential buildings in the village of Klimovo in Russia's Bryansk region, some 11 kilometres from the frontier. Russia's Investigative Committee said seven people, including a toddler, were wounded.

Russia's state security service had earlier said Ukrainian forces fired mortar rounds at a border post in Bryansk as refugees were crossing, forcing them to flee.

The reports could not be independently verified. Earlier this month, Ukrainian security officials denied that Kyiv was behind an airstrike on an oil depot in the Russian city of Belgorod, some 55 kilometres from the border.

WATCH | Exhibit on Mariupol theatre bombing opens at Ukrainian art centre: 

New exhibit opens at Ukrainian art centre during war

4 months ago
Duration 1:36
The director of the Lviv Municipal Art Center in Ukraine explained why it's important to create and support art during wartime. A new photography exhibit about the bombed theatre in the port city of Mariupol opened on Thursday.

With files from The Associate Press