Russia says it destroyed Ukraine's last warship
Kiev [Ukraine], June 1: Ukraine's last naval vessel has been destroyed by a high precision weapon while moored in the Black Sea port of Odessa, the Russian Defence Ministry reported on Wednesday.
The attack by the Russian air and missile forces took place on Monday, Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in Moscow, naming the vessel as the Yuri Olefirenko, a landing ship commissioned in 1971.
The Ukrainian navy is inferior to the Russian navy since it lost most of its ships after the Russian annexation of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in 2014. After the Russians began the war in Ukraine they have endured further losses.
Ukraine has not confirmed the strike, and the information cannot be independently verified.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin said it sees no need to introduce martial law in the country, despite recent drone attacks on Moscow and the ongoing shelling of Russian regions on the border with Ukraine.
The imposition of a state of war is not currently being discussed, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.
According to media reports, he was reacting to demands by RamzanKadyrov, head of the Russian republic of Chechnya in the North Caucasus. The Putin ally has demanded a tougher crackdown on Ukraine and the declaration of martial law after the drone attacks on Moscow on Tuesday.
Peskov stressed that the decision was up to Moscow and not the regions. At the same time, he once again expressed concern about the ongoing shelling of the Russian border region of Belgorod in particular.
"The situation there is quite alarming. Measures are being taken," Peskov said.
Heavily armed fighters with military equipment had entered the Belgorod region from Ukrainian territory on May 22. They are said to have been a volunteer unit of Russian citizens fighting on the side of Ukraine. However, it remained unclear whether and how the fighters were cooperating with Kiev.
Also on Wednesday, Ukraine assured the US that it will not be using US-supplied weapons for attacks in Russia, according to Washington.
"They have given us assurances that they won't use our equipment to strike inside Russia," US National Security Council communications director John Kirby told CNN on Wednesday.
However, he also stressed that once the weapons are handed to Ukraine they belong to the country, meaning Ukraine decides how to use the supplied weapons.
"We want to make sure that Ukraine has everything they need to defend themselves as they get ready to go on the offensive here in the summertime. We want to make sure they have everything they need to do that successfully," Kirby continued.
He also reminded that "we don't want to see this war escalate beyond what is already visited against Ukrainian people and the European continent."
In response to Russia threatening Ukraine after drone attacks in Moscow, Kirby said: "I think we can all understand that that if we give Putin what he is claiming this is - war against the West, a war against the United States, a war against NATO - there's gonna be a whole lot more suffering across the European continent."
Germany, meanwhile, banned Russia from operating four consulates general in response to the expulsion of German diplomatic staff, a Foreign Office spokesman said in Berlin.
Only the Berlin consulate and the other five consulates will be allowed to operate, a Foreign Office spokesman said on Wednesday.
The Russian government "took a step towards escalation" by limiting the total German presence in Russia to 350 people.
"And this unjustified decision forces the German government to make a very significant cut in all areas of its presence in Russia."
Berlin had previously voiced strong criticism of Moscow's move to impose a cap on German state employees in Russia.
Source: Qatar Tribune