A day after Moscow suffered a stinging symbolic defeat with the loss of the flagship of its Black Sea fleet, Russia’s Defense Ministry promised Friday to ramp up missile attacks on the Ukrainian capital in response to Ukraine’s alleged military “diversions on the Russian territory.”
The threat of intensified attacks on Kyiv came after Russian authorities accused Ukraine of launching airstrikes on residential buildings in Bryansk, a region that borders Ukraine, and wounding seven people. Authorities in another border region of Russia also reported Ukrainian shelling Thursday.
Life in Kyiv has been gradually returning to some normalcy after Russia failed to capture the capital and withdrew its troops in northern Ukraine to focus on a concentrated assault in the country’s east. A renewed bombardment could return the city’s residents to sheltering in subway stations and the steady wail of air raid sirens.
Ukrainian officials have not confirmed striking targets in Russia, and the reports by Russian authorities could not be independently verified. However, Ukrainian officials claimed their forces struck a key Russian warship with missiles on Thursday. If true, the claim would represent an important victory.
The guided-missile cruiser Moskva, named for the Russian capital, sank while being towed to port after suffering heavy damage under circumstances that remained in dispute. Moscow acknowledged a fire on board but not any attack. U.S. and other Western officials could not confirm what caused the blaze.
The sinking “means Russia has now suffered damage to two key naval assets since invading Ukraine, the first being Russia’s Alligator-class landing ship Saratov on 24 March. Both events will likely lead Russia to review its maritime posture in the Black Sea,” the British ministry said.
On Thursday, other Russian ships in the northern Black Sea moved farther south after the Moskva incident, said a senior U.S. defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal military assessments.
While the U.S. was not able to confirm Ukraine’s claims of striking the warship, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan 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.
Russia invaded Feb. 24 and has lost potentially thousands of fighters. The conflict has killed untold numbers of Ukrainian civilians and forced millions more to flee.
It has also further inflated prices at grocery stores and gasoline pumps, while dragging on the global economy. The head of the International Monetary Fund said Thursday that the war helped push the organization to downgrade economic forecasts for 143 countries.