A Russian war ship was struck by Ukrainian forces as they continued to defend the port of Odessa from invading troops, according to Ukraine’s navy.
Video footage appeared to show Ukrainian defence forces, based in Odessa, cheering as they exchanged fire with ships in the Black Sea in the early hours of the morning.
One Russian ship – said to be the patrol vessel Vasily Byko – is thought to have been hit as Ukrainian forces defended the country’s largest port, Ukraine’s navy said on Monday.
‘The enemy has retreated again,’ it said in a brief statement on Facebook.
While the Ukrainian Armed Forces added: ‘Today, March 7, 2022, Navy marine units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine defending the Odessa region hit an enemy ship.’
The apparent attack marked yet another setback for Vladimir Putin as his invasion enters its twelfth day, with the capital of Kyiv still fighting back against invading troops.
A Russian warship – believed to be the patrol vessel Vasily Bykov – is seen smouldering off the coast of Odessa, Ukraine, after being hit by forces defending the city overnight
The project 22160 patrol ship was commissioned in December 2018 and is mainly used for protection and monitoring purposes.
The Vasily Byko ship, which has a range of 6,000 miles and a maximum speed of 35mph, features two machine guns and two grenade launchers.
The apparent latest hit is another setback for the Russian president as his troops have failed to capture any significant territory nor the capital of Kyiv despite a weekend of heavy fighting.
Russian forces are widely seen as having struggled in the face of Ukrainian military resistance and civil disobedience since entering the country 11 days ago.
The Ukrainian armed forces claimed to have destroyed up to 30 Russian helicopters that had been moved to Chornobaivka airport, near Kherson, overnight and to have retaken the city of Chuhuiv, near Kharkiv, killing two Russian commanders – Lt. Col. Dmitry Safronov, and Lt Col. Denis Glebov – in the process.
Ukraine’s ministry of defence claims to have taken out more than 11,000 troops, some 290 tanks, 1,000 armoured personnel carriers, 46 planes, 68 helicopters and 117 artillery pieces as-of Monday morning.
None of those figures has been independently verified. Russia has acknowledged taking losses, but gave a figure of 500 deaths last week and has not updated it since.
The project 22160 patrol ship was commissioned in December 2018 and is mainly used for protection and monitoring purposes
The Vasily Bykov patrol ship, which has a range of 6,000 miles and a maximum speed of 35mph, features two machine guns and two grenade launchers
Ukraine’s military estimates that 11,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in fighting along with the loss of 1,000 armoured vehicles, 290 tanks, 68 helicopters, 46 planes and dozens of other piece of hardware.
Independent observers give lower totals, but Franz-Stefan Gady – of the International Institute for Strategic Studies – said the situation is never-the-less ‘slowly becoming unsustainable for Russia’.
It comes after President Zelensky accused Russia of a war crime amid plans to bomb the port city of Odessa.
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Almost a million people live in Odessa, a cosmopolitan harbour on Ukraine’s southern coast with both Ukrainian and Russian speakers and Bulgarian and Jewish minorities.
In a video address, the Ukrainian leader said: ‘They are preparing to bomb Odessa.
‘Russians have always come to Odessa. They have always felt only warmth in Odessa. Only sincerity. And now what? Bombs against Odessa? Artillery against Odessa? Missiles against Odessa?
‘It will be a war crime. It will be a historical crime.’
Analysts have previously said that taking Odessa would be a huge strategic victory and would give Russia a chokehold on Ukraine’s economy.
Russia has made progress in southern Ukraine since its invasion 11 days ago, overrunning the city of Kherson and shelling the port of Mariupol, but Odessa has so far been largely spared.
Putin’s men renewed their bombardments on Mariupol, Chernihiv, Mykolaiv and Kharkiv this morning as hundreds of civilians tried to evacuate Irpin – on the outskirts of Kyiv – across a destroyed bridge after days of heavy attacks in an attempt to encircle the capital.
But Russian commanders have not significantly advanced their frontline since the city of Kherson and nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia were captured last week.
It comes after a military expert suggested that Putin could be ‘finished’ by the invasion of Ukraine after under-estimating military, social and economic resistance at home and abroad.
Professor Michael Clarke said sending soldiers to take Kyiv was ‘massively foolish’ and could become a ‘peak Putin’ moment that leads eventually to his downfall.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour, Prof Clarke said ‘every day the Ukrainian government is still up and running and standing is a political victory for them and a political defeat for Russia’.
‘The Russians can occupy the country at a superficial level. But given that the Ukrainians now hate them – and you are talking about a big country, a physically big country of 45 million people – it is a sheer impossibility that the Russians can control Ukraine in the way that they thought likely or the way Putin thought likely,’ he said.
‘It’s a completely impossible scenario Putin has set his military forces, it’s a huge strategic blunder, which incidentally has now become a political crisis in Russia … this is peak Putin. After this Putin is finished.
‘We don’t know how long it will take, it may be some years or it might actually be quite quick. But there is no way out for this, it is a massive massive mistake on his part.’
Meanwhile, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky vowed that ‘God will not forgive’ and Ukraine ‘will not forget’ the slaughter of civilians by Russian forces, saying a ‘day of judgement’ is coming for them as Moscow was slammed for opening up ‘humanitarian corridors’ for civilians to flee – with routes leading into Russia itself.
Zelensky, in a late-night address to his countrymen on the Orthodox Christian holiday of ‘Forgiveness Sunday’, recalled how a family of four were among eight civilians killed by Russian mortars while trying to flee the city of Irpin – near Kyiv – earlier in the day. ‘We will not forgive. We will not forget,’ he told listeners.
Ukraine claims to be inflicting heavy losses on the invading Russians. Pictured: A destroyed Russian infantry fighting vehicle is seen near the city of Mariupol, in images captured by Ukraine’s ‘Azov Brigade’
Forces continue to work to surround the capital Kyiv, though progress has been slow. Attacks on civilian areas on the outskirts have increased
After more than a week in stalled positions, Russian forces have made small gains in their attempt to surround and assault Kyiv – with Ukraine saying enough firepower has now been amassed for the mission
A Russian tank is seen damaged and abandoned near the city of Mariupol, which has been under heavy shelling for days
‘We cannot forgive the hundreds upon hundreds of victims. Nor the thousands upon thousands who have suffered,’ he added. ‘God will not forgive. Not today. Not tomorrow. Never.’
Shortly after they spoke, columns of smoke were seen rising over the city of Mykolaiv, on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, as Russian forces resumed shelling.
The exact number of civilian casualties is unclear, though is estimated by Ukraine to be in the thousands as residential areas of major cities are indiscriminately bombed using thermobaric and cluster munitions amid evidence of ‘hit squads’ targeting civilian vehicles. The UN estimates that 1.5million people have fled the fighting.
There were unconfirmed reports early Monday of heavy Russian losses around the captured city of Kherson overnight – with dozens of helicopters taken out alongside artillery columns – but these have also not been verified.
Britain’s Europe Minister James Cleverly said Russia’s latest offer of a ceasefire and an escape route for civilians was ‘cynical beyond belief’.
Evacuation routes published by Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency showed that civilians in some areas will only be able to leave towards Russia and Belarus.
The tail-end of a destroyed Russian Su-34 fighter is seen crashed through the roof of a warehouse near Kharkiv having been shot down by Ukrainian forces overnight
A Russian T-72 tank is seen destroyed somewhere near the city of Mariupol in an image posted by the ‘Azov Brigade’, a unit of the Ukrainian National Guard that operates in and around the city
Ukrainian soldiers carry a wounded woman out of the city of Irpin, to the west of Kyiv, amid heavy Russian attacks
People cross an improvised path under a destroyed bridge while fleeing the town of Irpin close to Kyiv, Ukraine
Mr Cleverly told BBC Breakfast: ‘It appears cynical beyond belief. There is a view that Vladimir Putin believed there was a widespread desire of Ukrainians to be closer to Russia, to be more Russian. I think that has been proven to be a complete nonsense by the circumstances we are seeing.
‘Providing evacuation routes into the arms of the country that is currently destroying yours is a nonsense.’
Ukraine war: The latest
- Russia steps up its shelling as the UN says 1.5 million people have now fled
- Attempts to evacuate civilians from Mariupol fail again, amid repeated ceasefire violations
- Ukraine’s military says it is fighting ‘fierce battles’ on the edge of the southern city of Mykolayiv,
- Dozens of civilians are being killed in the battle for Chernihiv in the north
- A barrage of Russian missiles destroys Vinnytsia airport in central Ukraine
- Russian shops are told to limit sales of essential foodstuffs to counter black market speculation
- Thousands more are arrested at anti-war demonstrations in Russia, bringing the total to well over 11,000
- Vladimir Putin says he will achieve his aims in Ukraine ‘through negotiation or through war’
- US ‘green lights’ Poland to supply Kyiv with fighter jets, amid fears it could drag NATO into war
- Antony Blinken says the West is in ‘very active’ discussions about a Russian oil embargo, despite price at all-time high
- Credit card giants Visa, Mastercard and American Express freeze business in Russia. Russian banks say they will use China’s UnionPay system
- Consultancy firms KPMG and PwC announce an end to operations in Russia
- France announces it will send iodine tablets and other medical supplies to Ukraine. They are used to protect against the effects of exposure to radiation
- krainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says 20,000 international volunteers have joined the fight
- Netflix suspends services in Russia and social media giant TikTok blocks posting of video content from the country
- Foreign media including the BBC, CBC, ARD, ZDF, Bloomberg News, CNN, CBS, RAI and EFE have suspended reporting from Russia after Moscow threatened jail terms
He added that ‘ultimately the most humanitarian thing the Russians could do is end this completely illegal, completely unjustified invasion of Ukraine’.
Even as Russia announced a ceasefire starting Monday morning and the opening of humanitarian corridors in several areas, its armed forces continued to pummel Ukrainian cities, with multiple rocket launchers hitting residential buildings.
The limited ceasefire announcement came a day after hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian civilians attempting to flee to safety were forced to shelter from Russian shelling of cities in Ukraine’s center, north and south. Officials from both sides planned a third round of talks Monday.
Russian forces continued their offensive, opening fire on the city of Mykolaiv, 480 kilometers south of the capital of Kyiv, Ukraine’s General Staff said Monday morning. Rescuers said they were putting out fires in residential areas caused by rocket attacks.
Shelling also continued in the suburbs of Kyiv, including Irpin, which has been cut off from electricity, water and heating for three days.
‘Russia continues to carry out rocket, bomb and artillery strikes on the cities and settlements of Ukraine,’ the General Staff said. ‘The invaders continue to use the airfield network of Belarus to carry out air strikes on Ukraine.’
The Russians have also been targeting humanitarian corridors, taking women and children hostage and placing weapons in residential areas of cities, according to the General Staff.
A Russian task force said a ceasefire would start Monday morning, the 12th day of the war, for civilians from Kyiv, the southern port city of Mariupol, Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and Sumy. It wasn’t immediately clear if fighting would stop beyond the areas mentioned in the task force’s statement, or when the ceasefire would end.
The announcement follows two failed attempts to evacuate civilians from Mariupol, from which the International Committee of the Red Cross estimated 200,000 people were trying to flee.
Russia and Ukraine have traded blame for the failure. The Russian task force said Monday’s ceasefire and the opening of the corridors was announced at the request of French President Emmanuel Macron, who spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday.
Evacuation routes published by Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency, citing the Defense Ministry, show that civilians will be able to leave to Russia and Belarus. Russian forces will be observing the ceasefire with drones, the task force said.
Putin said Moscow’s attacks could be halted ‘only if Kyiv ceases hostilities.’ As he has often done, Putin blamed Ukraine for the war, telling Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday that Kyiv needed to stop all hostilities and fulfill ‘the well-known demands of Russia.’
With no sign of an end to the fighting, western leaders are now working to figure out the best way of responding to Russia’s attack without escalating the situation into an all-out war in Europe which could evolve into the bloodiest and most-destructive conflict in human history.