Ukraine update: Russian ship sinks after explosions, fire; Ukraine liberates still more ground

Ukraine update: Russian ship sinks after explosions, fire; Ukraine liberates still more ground

It was a day of shifting narratives as media outlets, their pundits, and even the mapmakers began to cautiously explore a notion that was scoffed at in the days immediately before Russia invaded Ukraine: Could Russia lose? Not just face economic and diplomatic isolation, but suffer an on-the-ground military loss?

It’s no longer unthinkable, though the situation in Ukraine is far too unstable to presume it to be the most likely end scenario. Ukraine continues to regain ground through counterattacks, and we’re learning (and the mapmakers are learning) that much of the land Russia is claimed to have taken has little actual Russian presence. Now even Kherson, the largest town Russia has captured, appears to be once again contested terrain. Meanwhile, Russian errors continue to stack up.

Ukraine claimed responsibility for sinking a Russian military ship docked in occupied Berdyansk and damage to at least one other in yet another previously unthinkable blow to Russia’s supposed military dominance. However, it’s not immediately clear from the footage that the multiple explosions dockside were from missile strikes. Sabotage or a catastrophic error in handling the offloading of Russian ammunition are also possibilities, especially since “catastrophic error” appears to be one of the few things Russian commanders have been consistently able to produce.

Here’s some of today’s news:

Friday, Mar 25, 2022 · 2:36:42 AM +00:00

Mark Sumner

US. is now confirming that the Orsk was sank by the Ukrainian military, rather than a Russian accident or friendly fire. 

New: US assesses Ukraine likely conducted successful attack on Russian ships in Berdiansk, says defense official, Ukraine said it destroyed the “Orsk”. Russia’s state media outlet had profiled the “Orsk”, saying it could carry 20 tanks or 40 armored personnel carriers.

— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) March 25, 2022

The latest take is that the Orsk was taken out by a Turkish bayraktar drone, which also managed to damage two other ships. Where the drone originated is unknown. We’re unlikely to get that information until after the war. 

Friday, Mar 25, 2022 · 3:00:03 AM +00:00


Several reports (unconfirmed) claim Ukraine has cleared Mykolaiv Oblast of all Russian troops. The fact that they’re at Kherson airport’s door suggests those claims are true.

— Status-6 (@Archer83Able) March 24, 2022

Question: If all of Mykolaiv is cleared, does that mean that the Russian spearhead approaching Kryvyi Rih is now cut off? Their supply lines to the northeast ran through Mykolaiv oblast. Lots of fog of war. 

#NewsMap After two weeks of fighting, Ukrainian forces have liberated all towns, villages and streets in Mykolaiv oblast, formerly held by Russian forces (marked in blue). The Ukrainian army began its counteroffensive on Kherson oblast this evening.#PutinAtWar #SlavaUkraini

— Julian Röpcke🇺🇦 (@JulianRoepcke) March 24, 2022

To stress, as I write this Thursday evening, this is unconfirmed. I only post because the assault on Kherson airport required Ukraine to pull up its artillery, and that wouldn’t be happening if Russia was still operating on those flanks. 

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