Ukraine says it damaged a Russian ship and is trying to evacuate wounded Mariupol militants

Ukraine says it damaged a Russian ship and is trying to evacuate wounded Mariupol militants

  • Ukraine says it damaged a Russian supply ship in the Black Sea
  • Relatives of Mariupol fighters ask for rescue
  • Finland wants security after Russian invasion of Ukraine
  • Sweden is expected to follow suit to join the alliance

KHARKIV, Ukraine, May 13 (Reuters) – Ukraine said it damaged a Russian Navy logistics ship near Snake Island, a small but strategic outpost in the Black Sea, while relatives of Ukrainian soldiers who are based in Mariupols hidden in a besieged steel mill, rescued asked for it.

Renewed fighting around Snake Island in recent days could turn into a battle for control of the western Black Sea coast, according to some defense officials, as Russian forces struggle to advance in northern and eastern Ukraine.

“Thanks to the actions of our sailors, the supply ship Vsevolod Bobrov caught fire – it is one of the newest in the Russian fleet,” said Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesman for the Odessa regional military administration.

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Reuters could not independently verify the details. The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Satellite imagery provided by Maxar, a private US company, showed the aftermath of what it described as likely missile attacks on a Russian Serna-class landing craft near the island near Ukraine’s maritime border with Romania.

The images also showed recent damage to buildings on the island, which became famous for the foul-mouthed defiance of its Ukrainian defenders early in the invasion. Continue reading

Russia suffered further setbacks on the battlefield as Ukraine drove its troops out of the region around its second-biggest city, Kharkiv, in the fastest advance since Kremlin forces drove out of Kyiv and the north-east more than a month ago.

Reuters journalists have confirmed that Ukraine is now in control of an area stretching to the banks of the Seversky Donets River, some 40 km (25 miles) east of Kharkiv.

Footage released by the Ukrainian Airborne Command appeared to show several burned-out military vehicles and parts of a bridge that appeared to have been destroyed and partially submerged in the river.

Regional authorities reported continued rocket attacks around Poltava and shelling at Dergach near Kharkiv, killing two people.

In the capital Kyiv, wives and relatives of Ukrainian fighters holed up at the Azovstal Steelworks in Mariupol’s southern port marched and chanted for their rescue. Russian forces bombard the Steelworks, the last bastion of Ukrainian defenders in a city almost completely controlled by Russia after more than two months of siege.

“I want all defenders who are there to return home so that they can lead normal lives with their children and relatives,” said Maria Zimareva, whose brother is in the steel mill. “You have earned it. Why can the others take to the streets with their loved ones and they can’t? Why isn’t anyone helping them?”

Kyiv said it was working to rescue the soldiers, many of whom were seriously injured.

“We have started a new round of negotiations on a roadmap for an (evacuation) operation. And we will start with the seriously injured,” Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told 1+1 TV channel.

NATO ENLARGEMENT

As fighting continued across the country, diplomatic moves increased pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Finland’s plan to bid for NATO membership, announced on Thursday, and the expectation that Sweden will follow, would bring about the expansion of the Western military alliance that Putin intended.

Giving up the neutrality they maintained during the Cold War would be one of the biggest shifts in European security in decades.

Moscow called Finland’s announcement hostile and threatened retaliation, including unspecified “military-technical” measures.

“Helsinki must be aware of the responsibility and consequences of such a step,” the foreign ministry said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Finns would be “warmly welcomed” and promised a “smooth and swift” accession process. Continue reading

The White House supported such a move.

“We would support a NATO bid from Finland and/or Sweden if they applied,” spokesman Jen Psaki said.

Finland’s 1,300 km (800 miles) border will more than double the length of the border between the US-led alliance and Russia, putting NATO guards just a few hours’ drive from St. Petersburg’s northern outskirts.

Putin cited the potential expansion of NATO as one of the main reasons he launched what he called a “military special operation” in Ukraine in February.

Disputes over Russian energy supplies to Europe — still Moscow’s biggest source of money and Europe’s biggest source of heat and electricity — also intensified on Thursday.

Moscow said it will halt gas flow to Germany through the main pipeline via Poland, while Kyiv said it will not reopen a pipeline route it closed this week unless it gains control of areas from pro -Russian fighters. Gas prices in Europe rose sharply. Continue reading

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Reporting by Reuters bureaus; writing from Lincoln Feast and Stephen Coates; Edited by Simon Cameron Moore

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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