Thursday, March 24, 2022

Ukraine Strikes Russian Navy in Occupied Port City (VIDEO)

Huge moral booster. Watch at the Telegraph U.K., "'We f------ hit them!' Moment Ukraine strikes Russian warship in Odesa," and the Guardian U.K., "Russian ship destroyed in port of Berdiansk, says Ukrainian navy."

The story's at the Wall Street Journal, "Ukraine Strikes Russian Navy as War Enters Second Month: NATO agreed to help Ukraine protect itself against potential biochemical warfare during an emergency meeting in Brussels":

Ukraine said it struck the Russian-occupied port facilities in the Azov Sea city of Berdyansk on Thursday, setting off a large fire and hitting a Russian warship as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization pledged additional help for Kyiv.

Seized by Russia in the first week of the war that began a month ago, Berdyansk has become a major logistics hub for Russian forces. Footage from the area showed smoke billowing from the berthing area and secondary explosions from detonating ammunition.

The attack in Berdyansk—which is 50 miles west of the besieged port of Mariupol and nearly 100 miles from the main front line in southern Ukraine—is a sign Kyiv has retained significant military capabilities as it pursues a large-scale conventional war against Russian forces.

President Biden met with NATO leaders in Brussels on Thursday to agree on new measures to help Ukraine battle Russia’s invasion and address growing concerns Moscow might use chemical, biological or other unconventional weapons in its monthlong war.

“Allies agreed to supply equipment to help Ukraine protect against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said after the summit. That includes equipment to detect such weapons, protect against them, medical support and decontamination equipment, he said.

NATO, he said, also has activated chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense forces. “We are taking measures both to support Ukraine but also to defend ourselves,” he said.

Russian officials didn’t immediately confirm the attack in Berdyansk. Kyiv initially said the strike destroyed the Russian navy landing ship, Orsk. Later Ukrainian news reports from Berdyansk named the targeted ship as Saratov, the same class of large landing ship as Orsk. The Ukrainian military followed up with a statement that it had hit Russian landing ships in Berdyansk, and that one of them was engulfed in fire. It didn’t provide the name.

Footage from Berdyansk also showed two smaller Russian ships fleeing the port after the explosions, one of them on fire.

Berdyansk, where pro-Ukrainian protests erupt regularly, is one of a handful of Ukrainian cities captured by Moscow in the month since Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Ukrainian officials haven’t disclosed how Ukraine carried out the attack. Ukraine’s new Neptune antiship missiles have a range of about 200 miles and haven’t been used in the conflict so far. Ukraine also has ballistic missiles with a known range of some 75 miles, though there may be modifications with a longer range.

Andrii Ryzhenko, a former Ukrainian Navy captain now with the Center for Defense Strategies, a Kyiv think tank with close ties to the military, said he believed Ukraine used one or more Tochka-U ballistic missiles to dent Russia’s supply chain along the Azov Sea coast.

“For the Russians, this is the easiest way to bring and feed their contingent,” Mr. Ryzhenko said. “These ships, they can carry a significant amount of cargo. Our specialists say that at least for a few weeks, Berdyansk is closed for them for resupply because of damage to the port.”

Mariupol, another Azov Sea port city, has been surrounded by Russian forces and pummeled with artillery and airstrikes for weeks. Thousands of civilians there have been killed, and most of the city has been destroyed, according to local officials. While Russian troops have entered the eastern side of Mariupol in recent days, Ukrainian forces continue to keep most of the city from falling into Russian hands.

Before Thursday’s strike, Ukraine managed to inflict severe damage on the Russian navy personnel in the Azov area. Moscow has acknowledged that Ukrainian troops killed the deputy commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, Navy Capt. Andrey Paliy, and the commander of the fleet’s 810th Marine Infantry Brigade, Col. Aleksey Sharov, both of whom were recently operating in the Mariupol area.

The combat performance of the Ukrainian army and the failure of Russian forces to make significant advances have caught U.S. and allied officials by surprise. Weapons supplied to Ukraine before the invasion were tailored to fuel an insurgency campaign, with U.S. officials expecting Russia to seize the capital Kyiv in as little as three days.

However, Ukraine has managed to push Russia’s much bigger and better equipped military to a standstill, at least for now. Western nations are rushing to get more military supplies across Ukraine’s western borders as Kyiv says it risks running short of ammunition.

In Thursday’s address to the NATO summit, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked the alliance to do more to help Ukraine defend itself. “Ukraine needs military assistance—without limitations. Just as Russia is using all of its arsenal against us without limitations,” he said...