The flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, a guided-missile cruiser Moskva sink after the warship caught massive fire in Black Sea & was severely damaged following the detonation of ammunition.
The flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, a guided-missile cruiser that became a potent target of Ukrainian defiance in the opening days of the war, sank Thursday after it was heavily damaged in the latest setback for Moscow’s invasion.
Ukrainian officials said their forces hit the vessel with missiles, while Russia acknowledged a fire aboard the Moskva but no attack.
The loss of the warship named for the Russian capital is a devastating symbolic defeat for Moscow as its troops regroup for a renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine after retreating from much of the north, including the capital, Kyiv.
GRKR "Moscow" of the Black Sea Fleet of Russia leaves the Sebastopol on 10th April pic.twitter.com/HhqiWytb2N
— Defence View (@IndiandefenceNS) April 14, 2022
In his nightly video address to the nation, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy alluded to the sinking as he told Ukrainians they should be proud of having survived 50 days under attack when the Russians gave us a maximum of five.
Listing the many ways Ukraine has defended against the invasion, he noted those who showed that Russian warships can sail away, even if it’s to the bottom of the sea. It was his only reference to the missile cruiser.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the ship sank in a storm while being towed to a port. Russia earlier said the flames on the ship, which would typically have 500 sailors aboard, forced the entire crew to evacuate. Later it said the blaze had been contained.
The Moskva had the capacity to carry 16 long-range cruise missiles, and its removal reduces Russia’s firepower in the Black Sea. It’s also a blow to Moscow’s prestige in a war already widely seen as a historic blunder. Now entering its eighth week, the invasion has stalled amid resistance from Ukrainian fighters bolstered by weapons and other aid sent by Western nations.
During the first days of the war, the Moskva was reportedly the ship that called on Ukrainian soldiers stationed on Snake Island in the Black Sea to surrender in a standoff.
The news of the flagship overshadowed Russian claims of advances in the southern port city of Mariupol, where Moscow’s forces have been battling the Ukrainians since the early days of the invasion in some of the heaviest fighting of the war at a horrific cost to civilians.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Wednesday that 1,026 Ukrainian troops surrendered at a metals factory in the city. But Vadym Denysenko, adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, rejected the claim, telling Current Time TV that the battle over the seaport is still ongoing today. It is unclear how many forces were still defending Mariupol. Mariupol has been the scene of the some the war’s worst suffering.
Dwindling numbers of Ukrainian defenders are holding out against a siege that has trapped well over 100,000 civilians in desperate need of food, water and heating. David Beasley, executive director of the UN World Food Program, told AP in an interview Thursday that people are being starved to death in the besieged city.
Mariupol’s mayor said this week that more than 10,000 civilians had died and the death toll could surpass 20,000, after weeks of attacks and privation left bodies carpeted through the streets. Mariupol’s capture is critical for Russia because it would allow its forces in the south, which came up through the annexed Crimean Peninsula, to fully link up with troops in the Donbas region, Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland and the target of the coming offensive.