The Pentagon has reported that the Russian warship Moskva, which is a vital component of Russia’s naval strategy in the Black Sea, was sunken by Ukraine using the new Neptune missile.
Both Russia and Ukraine reported Thursday that the ship was damaged after ammunition detonated on board, but the two countries presented differing explanations for what went wrong.
According to Russian officials, the ammunition burst owing to a fire on board, and the crew was evacuated.
Ukrainian officials, on the other hand, claimed that their border guards had fired Neptune anti-ship missiles at the vessel, causing “serious damage.”
The Pentagon’s assessment, which was issued on Friday, was based on recent intelligence. It corresponds to Ukraine’s account of events. The unidentified defence officer told some media outlets there were likely casualties.
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The Pentagon saw some Russian sailors evacuate the burning ship in lifeboats, according to The Washington Post. According to The Wall Street Journal, the ship sank in the Black Sea south of Odesa while being hauled to Crimea for repairs.
The strike is a major setback for Russian morale in the midst of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The battleship, which had a crew of roughly 500 sailors, was a vital component of Russia’s naval strategy in the Black Sea, according to The Journal. According to a Pentagon official, Russia will not be able to make up for the loss.
Since Russian soldiers initially entered Ukraine in late February, Russian ships have started firing at Ukrainian cities from the Black Sea. According to the defence official, Russia has two additional similar ships, but neither is stationed in the Black Sea. Without risking being hit by further Ukrainian Neptune missiles, Russian warships will be unable to bomb Ukraine-held territories or assist in any amphibious operation near Odessa.
In February, the Moskva made news when an audio discussion between the ship and Ukrainian island border guards on Zmiinyi (Snake) Island went viral. The Ukrainian guards could be heard yelling, “Go fuck yourselves,” as Russian troops instructed the fleet to surrender.
Following the alleged sinking on Thursday, Ukrainian officials began trolling the sunken Moskva, referring to it as a “worthy diving site” and part of Russia’s “submarine fleet.”