One of the main warships of the Russian Navy has been badly damaged in the Black Sea, a huge blow to an army fighting the Ukrainian resistance 50 days after Vladimir Putin’s invasion of his neighbor.
Russian sailors have evacuated the guided-missile cruiser Moskva, the flagship of the Black Sea fleet, after a fire that detonated ammunition on board, Russia’s defense ministry said.
Ukraine’s Operational Command South claimed Thursday that the Moskva had begun to sink after it was hit by Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missiles.
Russia’s defense ministry said on Thursday the Moskva “will remain afloat” and measures are being taken to tow it to port. The ministry said the crew had been evacuated to other Black Sea fleet ships in the area.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told DailyExpertNews’s Brianna Keilar that “there was an explosion” on the Moskva, but said the United States cannot say at this time if the ship was hit by a missile.
Whatever the reason for the fire, analysts say the fire affects the heart of the Russian Navy as well as national pride, akin to the loss of a battleship during World War II or a US aircraft carrier today.
What we know about the Russian warship: The 611-foot-long (186 meters) Moskva, with a crew of nearly 500, is the pride of the Russian naval fleet in the Black Sea. Originally enlisted in the Soviet Navy as the Slava in the 1980s, it was renamed Moskva in 1995 and returned to service in 1998 after a refit, according to military site Naval-Technology.com.
The Moskva is armed with a range of anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles, as well as torpedoes and naval guns and close-in missile defense systems.
The Moskva also has symbolic significance for Ukraine, as it was one of the ships involved in the famous Snake Island exchange in February, according to Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
According to an alleged audio exchange in late February, as the Russians approached the Ukrainian garrison on Snake Island, also known as Zmiinyi Island, in the Black Sea, a Russian officer said: “This is a military warship. This is a Russian military warship. suggest you lay down your weapons and surrender to avoid bloodshed and unnecessary casualties, or you’ll be bombed.”
A Ukrainian soldier replied, “Russian warship, go f*** yourself.”
If the Moskva is lost, it would be the second major Russian naval vessel to suffer that fate during Moscow’s war with Ukraine.
In late March, Ukraine said a missile strike had destroyed a Russian landing ship in the port of Berdiansk.