Ukraine’s forces claim to have destroyed a large Russian landing ship in the Black Sea

A Russian ship named Caesar Kunikov passes through the Dardanelles strait in Turkey en route to the Mediterranean Sea, on Oct. 4, 2015.
A Russian ship named Caesar Kunikov passes through the Dardanelles strait in Turkey en route to the Mediterranean Sea, on Oct. 4, 2015. Copyright Burak Gezen/DHA via AP, File
By Euronews with AP
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All the latest developments in the Russia-Ukraine war.

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The Ukrainian military said on Wednesday that it sank a Russian landing ship in the Black Sea using naval drones, though Russian authorities have not yet confirmed the report.

According to Ukraine’s General Staff, the vessel sunk was the Caesar Kunikov amphibious ship, which was located near Alupka, a city on the southern edge of the Crimean Peninsula that Moscow annexed in 2014. Officials said the ship can carry up to 87 crew members.

Ukraine’s Military Intelligence, known as GUR, said its special operations unit “Group 13” sank the Russian ship using Magura V5 sea drones on Wednesday. Explosions damaged the vessel on its left side, it said, though a heavily edited video it released was unclear.

Private intelligence firm Ambrey said the video showed that at least three drones conducted the attack and that the ship likely sank after listing heavily on its port side. According to the company, the Caesar Kunikov was likely part of the Russian fleet escorting merchant vessels that call at Crimean ports.

If confirmed, losing the Caesar Kunikov ship would be another embarrassing blow for the Russian Black Sea fleet and a significant success for Ukraine 10 days before the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022.

It is the second time in two weeks that Ukrainian forces have said they sank a Russian vessel in the Black Sea. Last week, they published a video that they said showed naval drones assaulting the Russian missile-armed corvette Ivanovets.

The Russian military did not immediately comment on the claimed sinking, saying only that it downed six Ukrainian drones over the Black Sea overnight.

Putin signs law to confiscate assets of those convicted of discrediting the Russian army

Russia's President Vladimir Putin signed a law on Wednesday that will allow authorities to confiscate money, valuables and other assets from people convicted of spreading “deliberately false information” about the country's military.

Russian officials have used the existing law against “discrediting” the military that covers offences such as “justifying terrorism” and spreading “fake news” about the armed forces to silence Putin’s critics. Multiple activists, bloggers and ordinary Russians have received long prison terms.

The new confiscation law would also apply to those convicted of publicly inciting “extremist activities” and calling for actions harmful to state security or “discrediting” the armed forces. Discrediting the Russian military became a criminal offence under a law adopted as part of a sweeping government crackdown on dissent after the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

Biden warns Republicans that opposing Ukraine funding plays into ‘Putin’s hands’

US President Joe Biden warned House Republicans on Tuesday against opposing a $95.3 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, saying that doing so would be “playing into Putin’s hands.” The package includes $60 billion for Kyiv.

The aid package passed the Senate early on the same day but it is widely expected to face an uphill battle in the lower chamber, where Republicans hardliners influenced by Donald Trump will likely oppose it.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on a $95 billion Ukraine Israel aid package being debated in Congress, in the State Dining Room of the White House, on Feb. 13.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on a $95 billion Ukraine Israel aid package being debated in Congress, in the State Dining Room of the White House, on Feb. 13.AP Photo/Evan Vucci

House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana, has cast new doubt on the package and made clear that it could be weeks or months before Congress sends the legislation to Biden’s desk - if at all.

“Supporting this bill is standing up to Putin," Biden said, raising his voice as he referred to the Russian leader. “We can't walk away now. That's what Putin is betting on.”

Ukraine desperately needs the long-delayed aid from the US to continue its fight against the Russian invasion.

Nine Ukrainian civilians killed in the last 24 hours of Russian strikes

According to the Ukrainian president’s office, nine Ukrainian civilians were killed and at least 25 people wounded by Russian shelling in the 24 hours between Tuesday and Wednesday.

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