Ukrainian forces struck the Russian warship Moskva with two Neptune missiles, causing it to sink, a senior U.S. defense official said Friday. The confirmation comes after dueling reports in which Ukrainian forces claimed a successful attack on the flagship vessel in Russia’s Black Sea fleet while Russian officials said the ship had experienced a fire.
In retaliation for strikes on Russian assets, Russia’s Defense Ministry warned it will step up attacks on Ukraine’s capital. Blasts were reported outside Kyiv on Friday, with Russian forces claiming in a statement to have fired missiles on a suburban factory that produces Ukrainian defense weapons.
Meanwhile, Russian forces geared up for fresh assaults in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, which officials warn will be the next bloody flash point in this seven-week war. Russia appeared poised to capture the strategic port city of Mariupol and escalate attacks across Ukraine’s southeast after bruising setbacks, analysts said.
Tensions continue to build after Ukrainian authorities recaptured an ally of President Vladimir Putin and as Finland and Sweden step up their efforts to join the U.S.-led NATO alliance.
Here’s what to know
• A Mariupol steel factory has become a holdout for heavily bombarded Ukrainian forces in the key port city. A separatist leader in the region expects Russian forces to escalate the attack on the plant with chemical weapons.
• There are no plans for President Biden to visit Ukraine, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said.
• Russia appears headed toward default, according to the credit rating agency Moody’s.
• Russia sent a formal diplomatic note to the United States this week warning that shipping weapons to Ukraine could bring “unpredictable consequences.”
• The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel for updates.