Ukraine seized the initiative in its war against Russia, claiming to have recaptured more than 1,000 square miles in the northeastern Kharkiv region over recent days as it handed Moscow one of its biggest setbacks since Russian troops invaded more than six months ago.
Ukraine’s military said Sunday it was recapturing villages in the area around Kupyansk and Izyum, two cities that Russian forces fled Saturday as Ukrainian troops advanced on them. Those two cities had been central to a key war goal of Russian President Vladimir Putin: to seize full control of Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, together known as Donbas. Russian forces have used Izyum as a base to strike other towns in the area.
The flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, the missile cruiser Moskva, was seriously damaged and abandoned by its crew after its ammunition blew up, Russia’s Defense Ministry said, after Ukrainian officials said they hit the warship with cruise missiles.
Moskva’s entire crew, which usually numbers some 500 sailors, was rescued after a fire that led to the explosion, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement carried by state news agencies. It didn’t say what caused the fire.
Maksym Marchenko, the governor of Ukraine’s coastal region of Odessa, said on social media that the Moskva was hit by Neptune missiles, which Ukraine developed and said earlier this year would be deployed by April. There was no independent confirmation of the strike.