The Russian Defense Ministry has reported that the Russian warship Moskva has sunk after suffering “serious damage” in an explosion in the Black Sea whose causes are yet to be determined and while Ukraine claims responsibility for a missile attack.
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According to a statement collected by the Russian state media, “the Moskva ship was towed to the port of destination due to damage to the hull caused by the fire and the detonation of ammunition”, for which “the ship lost stability” and was ” sank in a stormy sea.
The Russian Defense Ministry previously said that the fire in the ammunition-laden ship caused an explosion, according to reports the state agency RIA Novosti. Russia claimed that the flagship of its Black Sea fleet has suffered “serious damage” although the “crew was evacuated.” Russia has so far given no further information on the cause of the fire and says it is being “investigated”.
Initially, the Russian ministry assured that the ship remained afloat despite the damage and that they were towing it to the port of Sevastopol.
Maksim Marchenko, the Ukrainian governor of the Odesa port region, has assured that the Moskva was hit by two Ukrainian-made “Neptune”-type cruise missiles.has reported on Telegram.
As reported by Forbes, Neptune missiles are stealthy and guided by radar. They can reach ships at a distance of up to 280 km.
Despite the fact that Russia assures that the ship remains afloat and they were able to evacuate the crew, the Operational Command South (OC South) of the Ukrainian Ground Forces says on facebook that, after the missile impact, the Moskva was severely damaged and the explosions from its arsenal reached the Russian rescue ships that were trying to approach. The Ukrainian Army adds that the storm surge “overturned the ship” and it “began to sink.”
Alexei Arestovich, advisor to the Ukrainian president, has stated that there were “510 crew members” on board the ship and that a storm is complicating the work of extinguishing the fire. “It is burning strongly right now, and with this storm at sea, it is not known if they will be able to receive help,” he declared during a live broadcast on YouTube.
Arestovich has shared a video on Twitter where he ensures that the moment of the missile attack from Ukraine on the Russian ship is captured. In it, Ukrainian soldiers are heard joking about the impact.
A flagship of the Russian Navy; a symbol for Ukraine
The Russian navy cruiser Moskva is its flagship and would be a considerable loss for Russia at a key moment in the offensive in Ukraine. She was strategically positioned in the Black Sea at the beginning of the invasion to lead the naval assault. Loaded with anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles, she had enough weaponry to crush the Ukrainian resistance.
Russian news agencies note that the 12,500-tonne Moskva was armed with 16 cruise missiles with a range of at least 700 km.
According to Forbes, the Moskva joined the Russian Navy in 1982. In addition to missiles, it was equipped with anti-aircraft weapons and torpedoes.
After being used in the invasion of Crimea in 2014, it was deployed on the Syrian coast to support Russian troops. In 2016, it underwent an overhaul and refurbishment, which extended its useful life for another ten years.
Russia’s navy has launched cruise missiles at Ukraine from the Black Sea and its ships are crucial in supporting ground operations in the south of the country, where the fight for control of Mariupol and other eastern Donbass continues.
The Moskva has become a symbol of the Ukrainian resistance a day after the Russian invasion began. A military attack from the ship targeted soldiers who were defending an islet in the Black Sea, known as Serpent Island, which is 40 kilometers from NATO territory.
The Ukrainian detachment faced threats from the Russian navy, which even warned them that if they did not lay down their arms they would be bombed. “Russian warship, go to hell.” It was the response of the Ukrainian officer who took the floor.
The phrase has become something of a catchphrase, appearing on T-shirts, billboards, and road signs. The Ukrainian government has also released a commemorative stamp showing a soldier combing the Russian ship.
The Ukrainian president Volodímir Zelenski posed these days on Instagram with these commemorative stamps.
Alongside the post he wrote: “The phrase that became a symbol of the steadfastness of Ukrainian defenders is now on postage stamps. Use it and remember that the “Russian warship” always has only one destination.