Russia’s guided-missile cruiser “Moskva” that was “seriously damaged” by an explosion on Wednesday has sunk, Russia’s defence ministry has confirmed.
The 510-crew warship symbolised Russia’s military power, leading its naval assault on Ukraine.
Conflicting accounts have emerged about how the “Moskva” caught fire, with Ukraine claiming the missile hit while Russia is refuting Ukraine’s claims.
On Wednesday, Maksim Marchenko, the Governor of Ukraine’s Odesa region, said on Telegram that Ukraine’s border guards on Snake Island used Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles to deliver “severe damage” to cruiser Moskva.
The Russian Defence ministry earlier said that the fire onboard Moskva was contained and that the ship could remain afloat. However, it had said it would look into the cause of the fire.
All crew members of the 12,490-tonne Moskva were safely evacuated.
Moskva is the second major vessel Russia has lost since the start of Ukraine’s invasion. In late March, the Saratov landing ship was destroyed by a Ukrainian attack in the harbour of Berdyansk, a Sea of Azov Ukrainian port seized by Russia.
How Important Was Moskva
During the Syrian conflict, Russia has previously used the warship to protect its airbase, Hmeimim. According to Reuters, it carries 15 anti-ship Vulkan cruise missiles with a range of 700 kilometres. The warship is also equipped with anti-submarine and mine-torpedo weapons. The ship was also able to carry a helicopter.
The sinking of “Moskva” is all the more symbolic because it was the same ship that had demanded the surrender of 13 Ukrainian troops on Snake Island in the early days of the war – receiving the iconic reply: ‘Russian warship, go f*** yourself.’