Ukraine: Russia's Black Sea Moskva flagship sinks
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The pictures appear to show the Russian navy’s flagship Moskva on fire moments before it sank, in what Forbes name as the most expensive military loss for Putin at an estimated cost of £574million. The pictures provide further weight to Ukraine’s claims that the ship was brought down by two Neptune missiles – refuting the Kremlin’s insistence that the ship sank on stormy seas following a fire caused by exploding ammunition.
The Moskva, the largest surface combatant lost in action since the end of the Second World War, hit headlines previously when a Ukrainian soldier was filmed saying “go f*** yourself, Russian warship” as the vessel threatened to shell Snake Island.
The pictures depict the warship burning internally, as heavy smoke can be seen emerging from portholes.
Rescue rafts appear to be missing, suggesting they had already been deployed during a rescue operation.
Crucially, the sea in the photo appears calm, contradicting the Kremlin’s claim that the ship sank in stormy conditions – if the photo proves true.
A source told Russian media VHCK-OGPU that the cruiser sank shortly after these pictures were taken.
Independent open-source analysts, questioned by authoritative The Maritime Executive, said that the new images were consistent with an anti-ship missile strike.
They added: “It appears to show two holes amidships at the waterline, just below the stacks on the port side.
“Significant fire damage is visible above decks, and the ship has a pronounced list to port.
“Black smoke marks at multiple hull penetrations near the main deck level are consistent with an internal fire running aft of the site of impact, according to analysts.”
The Pentagon has also confirmed Ukraine’s account of the sinking of the Moskva.
Bizarrely, a commentator on Russian state media’s premiere TV channel Rossiya-1 described the loss of the Moskva as sufficient cause for a declaration of war on Ukraine.
The commentator was seemingly repeating a long-abandoned propagandist statement by the Kremlin that the invasion of Ukraine by Russia is not a war, but a “special military operation”.
The commentator’s words also contradicted the Kremlin by connecting the sinking of the Moskva with Ukrainian action – something the Kremlin are trying to deny.
Behaving as though they are unaware of the thousands of Russian troops attempting to seize control of Ukrainian cities by military force, the commentator said: “Moskva is absolutely cause for war, one hundred percent. It’s the flagship [of the Black Sea Fleet]. There’s nothing to think about. There has to be a response, but what kind?”
In further confusion from Russian media about how they want to spin the loss of the Moskva, a Kremlin propagandist has instead berated the Russian navy for losing such a prominent warship.
Vladimir Solovyov, host of a popular Russian television programme that typically attacks the West, said he was “infuriated” that they lost the ship, adding: “I don’t care what happened, whether it was two Neptune missiles as the Ukrainians say. Since when is a warship afraid of a missile strike when it has equipment protecting itself from such strikes?”
The fate of the flagship’s crew remains unclear. According to the Times, experts estimate that the vessel would have around 500 sailors.
The Russian state-owned news agency Tass has claimed that all crew members were evacuated.
However, in a Russian social media post a woman appeared to confirm the death of her husband, a sailor on the Moskva, saying he “fought to his last breath to save the ship.”
She added that 27 crew members were missing – but the claims could not be confirmed, and the account was later made private.
Russia yesterday released an undated and muted video claiming to show over 100 crew members from the ship, although Igor Osipov, the commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and who Ukrainian media claim has been detained, was noticeably absent from the video.
This would not be the first fake video shared by the Kremlin’s media puppets, as in early April Russian social media shared a video claiming to depict 267 Ukrainian marines surrendering in Mariupol – but the video was quickly dismissed as propaganda, with a US Navy Seal highlighting multiple tell-tale issues with it.
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