Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Russian warship Moskva sinks in Black Sea
Russia has confirmed that the Russian warship Moskva – the ship damaged by an explosion on Wednesday has sunk in the Black Sea.
Russia’s defence ministry said the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet was being towed to port when “stormy seas” caused it to sink.
The warship was the symbol of Russia’s military might – the 510-crew missile cruiser led the country’s naval assault on Ukraine.
Kyiv is claiming its missiles hit the warship but Moscow hasn’t reported any attack and instead says the ship sank after a fire.
According to Russia’s version, the fire caused the explosion of the warship’s ammunition. The entire crew were evacuated to nearby Russian vessels in the Black Sea.
Initially, Russia denied the ship had sunk but did a U-turn late on Thursday. The ship is the biggest Russian warship to be sunk in action since WW2.
“While being towed… towards the destined port, the vessel lost its balance due to damage sustained in the hull as fire broke out after ammunition exploded. Given the choppy seas, the vessel sank,” the Russian defence ministry said.
Ukraine claims it struck the Moskva with Ukrainian-made Neptune missiles – a weapon designed after Russia annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the naval threat to Ukraine in the Black Sea grew.
US responds to sinking of Russian warship Moskva
The United States has called the sinking a “big blow” for Russia, but US officials were not able to confirm if it was Ukrainian Neptune missiles that caused the damage.
“It’s certainly plausible and possible that [Ukraine] did in fact hit this with a Neptune missile or maybe more,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said to CNN.
The Moskva gained notoriety on the first day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine when the ship called on a small garrison of Ukrainian border troops defending Snake Island in the Black Sea to surrender – the crew refused.
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