Russia has begun firing on the city of Mariupol from the Sea of Azov, according to a senior US defense official, using a group of approximately seven ships to launch attacks on the critical coastal city.
The official said a few of the ships may be a minesweeper and some amphibious landing ships, but some of the ships are surface combatants that have joined the attack on the besieged city over the last 24 hours.
“We continue to observe a number of Russian forces inside the city [of Mariupol],” the official said. “We think at least some of them are separatist forces that came from the Donbas, and again, the Ukrainians are fighting very very hard to keep Mariupol from falling.”
The city has already been under an ongoing Russian bombardment from long-range missile launches and artillery outside the city.
Separately, the Russians have a total of about 21 ships in the Black Sea, the official said. Twelve of the ships are surface combatants, while the rest are amphibious ships.