Krivyi Rhi, Ukraine —The helpless forces of Vladimir Putin have dealt another heavy blow to the armed forces of Vladimir Putin. The Ukrainian military said on Thursday it had severely damaged one of Russia’s most essential warships with a missile attack off Ukraine’s battered southern coast.
Russia’s military acknowledged that the guided missile cruiser Moskva, the flagship of its Black Sea fleet, had been forced to evacuate its entire crew – around 500 sailors – and was being towed back to port, but the Ministry Defense said it was due to a fire. on board, the cause of which was still being investigated.
As CBS News Senior Foreign Correspondent Holly Williams reports, the good news for Ukraine has been tempered by the cruelty of Russia’s ongoing war and fears about what is yet to come.
Ukraine’s defense forces have put up much tougher resistance than many expected during the first 49 days of the Russian invasion and airstrike. They have been helped by some notable Russian military failures, but Ukraine is now bracing for a new Russian attack on the Donbas regions in the far east of the country.
Thousands of civilians are still leaving the hardest-hit areas, but as Williams reports, even for those fleeing Donbas to the relative safety of central Ukraine, circumstances are dire and getting worse.
At an evacuation center, Williams met with people recently displaced by Russia’s brutal invasion as they registered and got whatever help was available, but the center is running low on the most basic supplies, like soap and toothbrushes.
The pain and anxiety of those who are forced to flee their homes is written on their faces.
Williams and her team found Galina Yegorova distraught. She managed to get out of the far eastern region of Donetsk before the expected Russian assault, but her 73-year-old husband refused to accompany her.
“He is very afraid to travel because he is old, he is afraid to leave his home behind,” he told CBS News. “We left our whole life there, we built it from scratch. He said he’s not going anywhere.”
She is desperately worried about her husband, especially since he has high blood pressure and all the hospitals in the region are closed. But when her daughter refused to leave them behind and run away with Yegorova’s granddaughter, she had to make a heartbreaking decision.
“She didn’t want to leave us behind, so I decided to go to force her to leave,” he told Williams through tears. Doctors gave her a sedative to help calm her nerves.
The civilians of Ukraine know that they are in the line of fire. In the shattered southern port city of Mariupol, shelled by Russia for weeks, Ukrainian authorities say more than 20,000 people are believed to have been killed. Russia claims that more than 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered there, but Ukraine denies this.
The country’s military, numbering just a fraction of Russia’s forces, continues to punch above its weight. The most recent proof of this was the rocket attack announced on Thursday against the Moskva warship. She was the same shipwhen they were ordered to surrender on the small Serpent Island at the start of the war.
But there is growing frustration in Ukraine as the country’s leaders and military say its Western partners have not beento defend democracy in Europe.
Colonel Igor Igamberdyyev, a veteran of Ukraine’s armed forces, told CBS News this week that the United States has given Ukraine enough weapons to prevent its own destruction, but not enough to win the war.
“Freedom must be better armed than tyranny,” said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. “Western countries have everything to make this happen.”
He spelled out what Ukraine wants on Wednesday, offering a wish list of weaponry that includes heavy artillery pieces “as many as possible” and a reminder of what he believes is at stake.
“Arm Ukraine now to defend freedom,” Zelenksyy told his Western partners.
He praised President Joe Biden for publicly accusing Russia of genocide in Ukraine, yet said, “Calling a thing by its name is essential to confronting evil.”