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Ukrainians claim to have destroyed a large Russian warship in Berdyansk

Ukraine’s armed forces on Friday identified a large Russian landing ship that they said had been destroyed the previous day in the port of Berdyansk in southern Ukraine.

The port, which had recently been occupied by Russian forces with several Russian warships docked, was rocked by a series of loud explosions shortly after dawn on Thursday.

Videos on social media showed fires raging across the wharf, with a series of secondary explosions reverberating across the city.

Screen capture from a video shared on social media of the Berdyansk port fire. – Ukrainian Armed Forces/Twitter

On Friday, the Ukrainian Armed Forces christened the vessel “Saratov”. In earlier reports, the ship was named “Orsk”.

In a statement, the armed forces said: “In the operational zone of Azov, according to updated information, a large landing ship “Saratov” was destroyed during the attack on the occupied port of Berdyansk. The large landing ships “Caesar Kunikov” and “Novotcherkassk” were [also] damaged. Other enemy casualties are being clarified.

Several Russian ships have been unloading military equipment in Berdyansk in recent days, according to reports from the port by Russian media.

The United States has said Ukraine likely carried out a successful attack on Russian ships in Berdyansk, a defense official says, although it is unclear what type of weapon or weapons were used during the attack. It echoes a similar statement from the UK Ministry of Defence, which said Ukrainian forces had attacked “high-value targets” in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, including a landing ship and military depots. ammunition in Berdyansk.

Analysis of videos posted online on Thursday showed that a Russian navy vessel left port shortly after the explosions.

Ukrainians claim to have destroyed a large Russian warship in Berdyansk

A screenshot of the fire. – Ukrainian Navy/Facebook

The Russian Defense Ministry has made no official comment on the explosion.

Berdyansk lies on the Sea of ​​Azov and is about 70 kilometers southwest of Mariupol. The city has a small naval base and a population of around 100,000.

Russian military troops first occupied government buildings in Berdyansk on February 27, three days after the start of the Russian invasion.

Mariupol still eludes Russian control despite being surrounded and beaten mercilessly, block by block, by Russian firepower.

Its defenders rejected a surrender ultimatum on Monday morning, thwarting a Russian effort to finalize a land bridge linking Crimea with breakaway republics in the eastern Donbass region.

Russia fired into Mariupol from the Sea of ​​Azov, according to a senior US defense official, using a group of about seven ships to launch attacks on the critical coastal city.

Further west, the Ukrainians fought to retake the city of Kherson, as well as push back Russian forces from northeast Mykolaiv, forcing them to reposition south of the city, a senior US official said on Tuesday. of the defense.

The official warned that the United States cannot say whether the moves are part of a “broader operational plan” by the Ukrainians, but called Ukraine’s defense “nimble” and “nimble”.

This story has been updated with new information from Ukrainian officials.

CNN’s Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych reported from Lviv, Celine Alkhaldi from Abu Dhabi and Gianluca Mezzofiore from London. CNN’s Nathan Hodge contributed to this report.

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