Russia’s Defense Ministry warned on April 15 that it will intensify attacks on the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, after accusing Ukraine of targeting Russian border towns.
The statement came a day after Russia suffered a symbolic defeat with the loss of its Black Sea fleet flagship, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy hailed his people for their resolve since Russia invaded in February and for making “the most important decision of their life — to fight.”
Zelenskiy told Ukrainians late on April 14 that they should be proud of having survived 50 days under Russian attack when the invaders “gave us a maximum of five.”
Zelenskiy noted “those who showed that Russian warships can sail away, even if it’s to the bottom” of the sea in a reference to Russia’s guided-missile cruiser Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, which sank in the Black Sea after being damaged in disputed circumstances.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the vessel sank while being towed to port in a storm after it was heavily damaged by fire. Ukrainian officials said their forces hit the vessel with a Neptune anti-ship missile earlier in the day.
The ship’s loss comes as Russia’s navy continues its bombardment of Ukrainian cities on the Black Sea nearly 50 days after it invaded the country.
Powerful explosions were heard in Kyiv on April 15, according to local media, and fighting raged in the east.
The Ukrainian presidency says explosions were heard in the Vasylkiv area outside the capital.
The Russian ministry also said its S-400 missile system shot down a Ukrainian Mi-8 helicopter, which carried out “an attack on civilians in the locality of Klimovo in the Bryansk region on April 14.”
Ukrainian authorities continue to expect an imminent, stepped-up offensive by Russian forces in the eastern part of the country.
Russian forces are currently focusing their attacks in eastern Ukraine in an attempt to capture the towns of Popasna and Rubizhne in the Luhansk region, a Ukrainian military assessment said on April 15.
However, they have not succeeded, according to the Ukrainian General Staff’s military situation report.