A senior U.S. defense official says the U.S. believes the Russian ship that sank Thursday in the Black Sea had been struck by at least one Ukrainian anti-ship missile, as claimed by the Kyiv government.
Pentagon officials had previously said they could not confirm the Ukrainian claim, but they also did not refute it.
The senior U.S. defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an intelligence assessment, said the Moskva was hit by at least one, and probably two, Neptune missiles on Wednesday, creating the large fire aboard.
The official offered no further details beyond saying the U.S. believes the Russians suffered some number of casualties aboard the ship.
After losing its naval flagship, Moscow is now vowing to up its missile strikes on Kyiv.
The UK Ministry of Defense says Russia has suffered damage to two key naval assets since invading Ukraine.
The two events will likely lead Russia to review its maritime posture in the Black Sea.
Russia’s Ministry of Defense said it struck a military target near Kyiv overnight and promised more strikes against the city.
This comes as Russian troops continue to fight for control over the city of Mariupol.
The key port is still holding out, a symbol of staunch Ukrainian resistance that has thwarted the Kremlin’s invasion plans.
Ukrainian troops are continuing to fight the vastly superior Russian forces in ferocious battles amid the ruins of what once was a bustling city on the Sea of Azov coast.
The Ukrainians’ fight against all odds has scuttled Moscow’s designs, tying up significant Russian forces and delaying the start of a planned Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine’s industrial heartland, Donbas.
Capturing Mariupol would allow Moscow to establish a land corridor to Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula which Russia annexed in 2014.