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Latest Ukraine: Russia claims dozens missing after Moscow warship fatal fire, a week after they said they all survived

Russia has confirmed that the soldier is dead and 27 others are missing after the fire of the warship Moscow, which sank a week ago after a rocket attack, according to Ukrainians.

Key points:

  • UN Secretary-General António Guterres hopes to meet with Russian and Ukrainian leaders in their capitals next week
  • Russia has confirmed that one soldier has been killed and 27 others are missing after a fire aboard the warship Moscow, which sank last week.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said talks between the two countries had “stopped”

Moscow has previously reported that everyone on board has been rescued.

The Russian Ministry of Defense did not admit the attack on the ship.

It continued that after the ammunition exploded, a fire broke out without explaining how it happened.

The revelation comes at a time when UN Secretary-General António Guterres plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week to urge peace in Ukraine.

The loss of the missile cruiser – the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet – was a humiliating obstacle for Moscow.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will meet with Vladimir Putin next week. 04.30 Reuters: Andrew Kelly

The UN chief will meet with the leaders independently

UN Secretary-General António Guterres will visit Moscow next week to meet with Mr Putin, and then head to Ukraine to hold talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed that Guterres would meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday and that Putin would also host the UN chief.

UN spokesman Eri Kaneko said Mr Guterres would meet with Mr Zelensky, Foreign Minister Dmytr Kuleba and UN agency staff on Thursday to discuss increased humanitarian aid efforts.

“[Mr Guterres] she hopes to talk about what can be done to bring peace to Ukraine as a matter of urgency, “she said, adding that Mr Guterres wanted to discuss” steps that can be taken now “to stop the fighting and help people get to safety.

The move by the UN chief comes when Mr Lavrov said the talks between the two countries had “stopped” because Moscow had not received a response from Kiev to its latest proposals, the details of which had not been made public.

Putin’s leader negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said that on Friday local time he had several long talks with the head of the Ukrainian delegation. However, he did not provide any details.

The meeting between Mr Guterres and Mr Putin will take place at a time when Russia has reoriented its efforts to conquer eastern Ukraine, as both sides rushed toward what could be an epic struggle for control of the country’s industrial heart.

Russian forces are slowly withdrawing from Mariupol to reorient their efforts to other parts of eastern Ukraine, as they expect to seize all of Mariupol in the coming days. (Reuters: Alexander Ermochenko)

Ukrainian authorities said Russia had moved a dozen troops from the broken port of Mariupol to the east and attacked cities across the region.

Rustam Minnekaev, a senior Russian military official, publicly outlined Russia’s war aims, which appeared to be broader than the Kremlin had stated in recent weeks.

He said the goal of Russian forces was to take full control not only of eastern Ukraine but also of the south.

Minnevaev said such a move would pave the way for Moldova, where Russia already supports the separatist region of Transnistria.

Moldovan officials are vigilantly following Mr Putin’s actions in Ukraine.

Zelensky said in a video speech on Friday that Minnekaev’s comments showed that Russia wanted to invade other countries.

Pro-Moscow separatists are hoisting a flag in Mariupol

From Mariupol – which had largely turned into smoking wreckage for weeks – Russian state television showed the flag of the pro-Moscow Donetsk separatists hoisted on the city’s highest point, the television tower.

She also showed that, according to her, the main building of the besieged steelworks Azovstal in Mariupol is on fire.

The Kremlin has thrown more than 100,000 troops and mercenaries from Syria and Libya into the fighting in Ukraine and is deploying additional forces in the country every day, said Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council.

“We have a difficult situation, but our army is defending our state,” he said.

An estimated 2,000 Ukrainian fighters are hidden in the large Azovstal factory, the last known outbreak of resistance in Mariupol. (Reuters: Alexander Ermochenko)

Ukrainian forces continue to hold in the Azovstal factory

Numerous towns and villages have been bombed in Donbas – an industrial area in the east that the Kremlin has declared a new, major scene of war – as well as in the Kharkov area in the west and south, authorities said.

Russian forces have struck an estimated 2,000 Ukrainian fighters hidden in the vast Azovstal factory, the last known outbreak of resistance in the strategic southern port city, the mayor’s office said.

“Every day they drop several bombs on Azovstal,” said Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol.

“Fighting, shelling, bombing don’t end there.”

The day before, Mr Putin had declared victory in the Battle of Mariupol, despite obstacles in the steelworks.

He ordered his forces not to attack the power plant to complete the defenders, but instead shut it down in an apparent attempt to force them to give up.

The southern port city of Mariupol is one of the worst-hit cities in Ukraine, which has been bombed by Russian shelling and missiles. (Reuters: Alexander Ermochenko)

Mariupol’s delay undermines Putin’s plans

Mariupol gained extraordinary importance in the war. Its conquest would deprive Ukrainians of a vital port and complete the land corridor between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, which Putin occupied in 2014 in Ukraine.

It would also allow Mr Putin to throw more of his forces into the potentially ultimate battle of the Donbas and its coal mines, factories and other industries: what the Kremlin has now declared its main goal.

Mr Danilov said some 12 to 14 Russian elite troops had in fact left Mariupol and moved east to take part in the fighting.

“It will be difficult for our forces now, because our boys in Mariupol took [those units] on me. It is their courage and performance, “he said.

Mr Danilov also said that Kyiv had been able to deliver weapons by helicopter – at great risk, under cover of night – to the Mariupol steelworks, which had been bombed for weeks.

Putin said Russia had given Ukrainian forces inside the plant the opportunity to surrender, with guarantees that it would keep them alive, and offered “decent treatment and medical care,” as described by a call to the Kremlin President Charles Michel.

“But the Kiev regime does not allow them to take this opportunity,” Putin said.

Ukraine claims to have been able to deliver weapons by helicopter – at great risk, under the cover of night – to the steelworks in Mariupol. (Reuters: Alexander Ermochenko)

“Possibility” of the humanitarian corridor from Mariupol

More than 100,000 people – about 430,000 of the pre-war population – are imprisoned in Mariupol with little food, water or heat, and more than 20,000 civilians have been killed in almost two months of siege, according to Ukrainian authorities.

Repeated attempts to evacuate civilians from the city failed because, according to the Ukrainians, Russian shelling continued.

On Friday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that “there is a possibility” that a humanitarian corridor from the besieged port city could be opened on Saturday.

“Check out the official announcement tomorrow morning. If all goes well, I’ll confirm,” she told the people waiting for the evacuation online.

Russian forces continue to bomb the suburbs of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkov, but have suffered their own losses. 04.30 Alkis Konstantinidis

The shelling continues in eastern Ukraine

After a few days of Russian offensive to the east, the campaign has not yet become a complete offensive, with military analysts saying Moscow’s forces are still growing and have yet to make any major breakthroughs in the Donbas or gain a position.

However, sniper attacks on Friday in the Donetsk region, which is part of the Donbas, killed three civilians in a small town and two villages, regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on a messaging application.

Mr Kyrylenko said the Russians had opened fire on at least 20 settlements in the region.

According to the mayor, Slovyansk – a city with about 100,000 inhabitants in eastern Ukraine – came under fire at night, which said there were no injuries, but called on the residents to leave by bus.

Russian fire in Rubizna has prevented attempts to bring buses, the regional governor said.

Intense shelling was also heard overnight in Kharkov, a northeastern city outside the Donbas, but considered one of the gates the Russians intend to use to encircle Ukrainian forces in the Donbas from the north, south and east.

AP / Reuters