Moskva Sinks, Mariupol Defenders Being Squeezed Into Small Pockets – After more than 50 days of bloody fighting, the war in Ukraine shows no sign of ending any time soon. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spoke with some European allies and said that the latest US intelligence believes that the fighting could continue through the end of 2022.
This latest assessment is markedly different than the early reports that predicted that the Russians would sweep into Kyiv in two-to-three days and take the entire country in just a few weeks. The Ukrainians’ will to fight has largely stalemated the Russian invasion and has taken a heavy toll on Russian losses in personnel, armored vehicles, and combat aircraft.
Diplomatic negotiations are not likely to be pursued as Russian President Vladimir Putin has doubled down on his aims unless his military forces were to face a total defeat. Ukraine and its president remain steadfast in their resistance to the invasion.
Black Sea Flagship Russian Cruiser Moskva Sinks:
The cruiser Moskva, the Russian Black Sea flagship has sunk. The Russians claim that a fire of unknown origin on board caused ammunition to explode, which caused structural damage that later after the crew had abandoned the ship resulted in the cruiser sinking as other Russian ships tried in vain to tow it to Sevastopol.
“While being towed… towards the destined port, the vessel lost its balance due to damage sustained in the hull as fire broke out after ammunition exploded. Given the choppy seas, the vessel sank,” the Russian defense ministry said in a statement.
“It’s certainly plausible and possible that Ukraine did in fact hit this with a Neptune missile or maybe more,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said to CNN.
Shortly after the Moskva was abandoned, the other two Slava-class cruisers in Russia’s Black Sea fleet, moved farther offshore, which lends credence to the Moskva being hit with a cruise missile.
Regardless of which story is correct, the Russians have suffered another blow to its national and military prestige as its flagship now rests on the bottom of the Black Sea. Russia hasn’t released any casualty figures yet, they did say that the sailors from the Moskva had been safely evacuated to other nearby Russian vessels.
The loss of Moskva was the largest Russian ship to be lost since World War II and the largest naval vessel sunk in nearly 40 years. During the Falklands War in May 1982, a British submarine launched torpedos that sunk the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano, which was of similar size as the Moskva.
Ukraine’s Alamo: The Ukrainian Situation in Mariupol Becoming Desperate
The Russians continue their assault on Mariupol as they are close to capturing the city. Constant air and artillery strikes have gradually worn down the surrounded defenders of the city, that are running out of food, water, and ammunition.
The city is an important strategic port on the Azov Sea as well as allowing a land bridge for Russian forces in Crimea and the Donetsk and Luhansk separatist-held areas in eastern Ukraine.
The Russians have been frustrated by their inability to quickly take the city and have resorted to a large-scale indiscriminate bombing and artillery campaign against the city and the civilians. They have targeted schools, hospitals, theaters, as well as other civilian areas. Some estimates put the destruction or damage to buildings in the city at 90 percent. As many as 20,000 civilians have been killed according to Mariupol mayor Vadym Boichenko.
While the Ukrainian military has stated that they have consolidated their defenses, they are now essentially tied up in two small pockets. However, the Russians claimed to have taken the Ilyich Steelworks, one of the Ukrainian enclaves in the city.
Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry said that “The grouping of Russian troops and units of the Donetsk people’s militia has completely liberated Ilyich Steelworks from Ukrainian nationalists as a result of the offensive in Mariupol city,” in a released statement earlier on Friday.
Ukrainian Marines from the 36th Marine Brigade had reportedly linked up with members of the Azov Regiment as the fighting rages on.
Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for more than 10 years and his work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.