Ukraine's armed forces Saturday released footage said to show a Russian landing ship being destroyed near Snake Island, a small isle under Russian control in the Black Sea.
The Ukrainian army said a missile launched from a Ukrainian drone, a Bayraktar TB2, destroyed the Russian warship. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said an armed Bayraktar drone also destroyed a missile defense system on the island, located 80 miles south of the Ukrainian port of Odesa.
Satellite images taken early Saturday by Planet Labs PBC showed what appeared to be a Serna-class landing ship near Snake Island's northern beach. That corresponds with the video released by the Ukrainian military said to show a drone striking it, engulfing the vessel in flames.
The video also claims to show buildings on the island that had been destroyed in a barrage of drone attacks by Ukrainian forces.
Striking Snake Island would impede Russia's efforts to control the Black Sea.
Meanwhile, six missiles hit the southern Ukrainian port city of Odesa on Saturday, the spokeswoman for Ukraine’s southern military command told the country's public broadcaster.
Also, all women, children and the elderly have been evacuated from the Mariupol steel works plant besieged by Russian forces, according to Anna Chernikova, a VOA reporter in Kyiv.
Ukrainian officials from the country’s national security council said Friday that Victory Day could mean more shelling in parts of Ukraine.
“Since Russian troops cannot boast of any significant achievements on the front by Victory Day, the risk of massive shelling of Ukrainian cities these days is increasing,” the officials wrote on Facebook.
Ukraine has warned its citizens to take cover when they hear air raid sirens and to avoid large gatherings because of the expected uptick in Russian attacks.
Russian lawmaker: US active in Ukraine war
Russia's most senior lawmaker Saturday accused Washington of coordinating military operations in Ukraine which he said amounted to direct U.S. involvement in the military action against Russia.
"Washington is essentially coordinating and developing military operations, thereby directly participating in military actions against our country," Vyacheslav Volodin wrote on his Telegram channel.
Washington and European members of the transatlantic NATO alliance have supplied Kyiv with heavy weapons to help it resist a Russian offensive that has resulted in the occupation of parts of eastern and southern Ukraine but failed to take Kyiv.
However, the United States and its NATO allies have repeatedly said they will not take part in fighting themselves to avoid becoming parties to the conflict.
Reuters reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin will send a “doomsday” message to the West on May 9.
A Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman said Friday that Russia has no intention of deploying tactical nuclear weapons to Ukraine.
“Russia firmly abides by the principle that there can be no victors in a nuclear war, and it must not be unleashed,” Alexei Zaitsev said.
More evacuations from Mariupol steel plant
Fighting continues to rage around the Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol which remains controlled by Ukrainian fighters.
More civilians were rescued from the tunnels under the plant Friday and Saturday, as the Ukrainians holed up at the sprawling complex made a stand to prevent Moscow’s complete takeover of the strategic port city.
Mariupol is a city reduced to ruins by the Russian onslaught. About 2,000 Ukrainian fighters, by Russia’s most recent estimate, are holed up in a vast maze of tunnels and bunkers beneath Azovstal steelworks and they have repeatedly refused to surrender.
U.S. first lady Jill Biden has arrived in Slovakia; the second stop of her four-day visit in Eastern Europe. Previously she visited Romania. At the U.S. embassy in Bucharest, the first lady praised the Romanian government and relief organizations for their work in helping refugees fleeing the Russian invasion in neighboring Ukraine, calling the efforts "amazing."
Biden heard heartbreaking stories from Ukrainian women and children who fled Russia’s war and found safe haven across the border. On Sunday in Slovakia she is scheduled to meet with displaced Ukrainian families.
The White House said Friday that U.S. President Joe Biden and other G-7 leaders will have a virtual meeting Sunday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The United Nations Security Council adopted a unanimous resolution Friday in support of a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine, the first such statement from the Security Council since Russia invaded Ukraine February 24.
Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Press and Reuters.