A major Russian navy warship has sank in the Black Sea, dealing a major blow to troops battling Ukrainian resistance forces 50 days after Vladimir Putin invaded the neighboring country.
The missile cruiser Moskva has sunk, Russia’s state news agency TASS said late Thursday, citing a statement from the Russian Defense Ministry.
“During the tow of the cruiser Moskva to the port of destination, the ship lost its stability due to damage to the hull caused by the explosion of ammunition. In rough seas, the ship sank,” the statement to TASS read. Ukraine’s Southern Combat Command claimed earlier on Thursday that the Moskva began sinking after being hit by a Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missile.
“In the Black Sea theater of operations, a Neptune anti-ship cruise missile hit the flagship Moscow cruiser of the Russian Black Sea Fleet – it sustained significant damage,” the statement said. “It caught fire. Other units of the fleet tried to help, but the storm and the strong The explosion of ammunition overturned the cruiser and she began to sink.”
Russia said a fire on the guided-missile cruiser caused an explosion of ammunition on board, severely damaging the ship and asked the crew to evacuate.
CNN was unable to independently verify what caused the damage to the ship.
Earlier in the day, the Russian Defense Ministry said the Moskva was “still at sea” and measures were being taken to tow it into port. The ministry said the crew had been evacuated to other Black Sea Fleet ships in the area.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told CNN’s Brianna Kelar that there was an “explosion” on the Moscow River, but said the U.S. could not currently determine whether the ship was hit by a missile.
“We’re not sure what’s going on here. We’re assuming there was an explosion, at least one explosion on the cruiser. A fairly large one, which did a lot of damage to the ship,” Kirby said.
“We hoped the ship would find its way, and it did; we think it’s moving east now. We believe it might be going to Sevastapol for repairs,” he added.
“This situation is a major blow for Russia,” U.S. National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan said on Thursday, as Moscow acknowledged that its flagship was badly damaged.
“They had to choose between two stories. One story was that it was just incompetence, and the other was that they were attacked. It wasn’t a particularly good outcome for them either,” Sullivan told the Washington, D.C. Business Club. tell the audience
Whatever happens to the Moskva River, analysts say its loss will hit hard at the heart of Russia’s navy and national pride, rivaling the loss of U.S. Navy warships during World War II or today’s aircraft carriers.
“Only the loss of a ballistic missile submarine or the Kuznetsov (Russia’s only aircraft carrier) would have dealt a more severe blow to Russia’s morale and naval standing in the eyes of the Russian public,” said retired U.S. Navy Captain Carl Schuster. Former Director of Operations, Joint Intelligence Center, U.S. Pacific Command.
“Ships operate out of the public eye, and their activities are rarely the subject of news. But they’re a big floating piece of a nation’s territory, and when you lose one, it’s the same flagship, political and symbolic message — aside from military losses — — stand out because of that,” he said.
With a crew of nearly 500, the 611-foot (186-meter) Moscow is the pride of Russia’s Black Sea Navy fleet. Originally serving with the Soviet Navy in the 1980s as Slava, it was renamed Moscow in 1995 and returned to service in 1998 after an overhaul, according to the military website Naval-Technology.com.
Moscow is armed with a range of anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles, as well as torpedo and short-range naval guns and anti-missile defense systems.
All of which represent a large amount of explosive ordnance in their arsenal, Schuster said. Any fire in the vicinity would give the crew limited options to deal with the threat.
“If fires reach your ammunition depots, you have two options: 1) flood them, or 2) abandon the ship,” Schuster said. “Otherwise, your crew will be devastated on board by a catastrophic explosion caused by fires of hundreds of tons of ammunition.”
Odessa Regional Administrator Maxim Marchenko claimed in a telegram that Ukrainian troops attacked the Moskva River with Neptune cruise missiles. If true, the Moskva could be the largest warship ever shot down by a missile, Schuster said.
Such a feat would be a big step forward for the armed forces of Kyiv.
Neptune is a Ukrainian domestic weapon based on the Soviet KH-35 cruise missile. According to Ukrainian media, it only served in the Ukrainian Armed Forces last year.
According to a post by the lieutenant on the Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC) website, if used to attack the Moscow River, it would be the first known use of Neptune during the war. commander. U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officer Jason Lancaster.
In his contribution to CIMSEC on Tuesday, he said the threat of mobile land-based cruise missiles like Neptune “has changed the way the enemy operates.”
“Russian ships will operate in a manner that minimizes the risk of detection and maximizes opportunities for defense,” Lancaster wrote. “These changes in behavior limit Russia’s ability to exploit its fleet superiority. The additional cost of a sudden battle Stress increases fatigue and can lead to mistakes.”