The first video and images have emerged that shows of Russia's flagship and Black Sea pride Moskva up in flames and sinking in the waters after being hit by Ukrainian missiles last week. The images are likely to have been taken from the top of a rescue ship alongside the stricken Russian warship on Monday.
The videos and photos show the extent of damaged suffered by Moskva that became a potent target of Ukrainian defiance in the opening days of the war. Moskva drew notoriety after it opened fire on a Ukrainian troop defending the Snake Island after they refused to surrender during the initial days of the war.
Up in Flames
The images, which appear to have been shot from a rescue vessel beside the crippled Russian battleship, show damage to the left side of the vessel, as well as flames burning below deck and a heavy pall of black smoke billowing into the sky.
Video taken from a nearby ship shows the Moskva seen sitting low in the water, tilting to the port side, with its lifeboats deployed but no personnel visible on board. The helicopter's rear helicopter door is likewise open, indicating that it has taken off.
A firefighting ship appears to be following the vessel and shooting water jets into the air.
The port side of the ship is scarred by numerous black scars, including some near deck level where smoke appears to have flowed out of portholes and left marks on the paint. However, there are black stains along the waterline that don't match the position of portholes, implying that the ship has been damaged from the outside.
The photographs match the description Ukrainian officials had earlier given of Moskva sinking in the Black Sea after being hit by two Ukrainian missiles last week. Ukraine had claimed that two missiles had hit the ship, with one on its port side which sparked a fire and caused it to roll.
The sinking of Moskva definitely is a big blow to the Russians given that it has already suffered huge losses so far. Despite Ukraine's claims of Moskva being hit by missiles, Russia has been giving a different account.
According to Moscow, the ship suffered a fire and internal explosion in rough seas that caused it to sink. However, the vide and the images tell a different story.
Since then, video has surfaced that appears to show two rescue vessels approaching the flaming ship, one on the left side and the other on the right, with a Russian speaker shouting. Before the short clip finishes, one man asks, "What the f*** are you doing?"
The photographs, according to analysts and specialists, look authentic. In the midst of a near-total information blackout surrounding the disaster, which is a great humiliation to Vladimir Putin's embattled armed forces, it's unlikely that Russia will acknowledge the veracity of the photos.
On Sunday, Russia shared photos of the crew members seen parading in the Port of Sevastopol, who they claim to have survived the attack. The warship's captain and between 150 and 250 members of his crew were photographed beside Black Sea Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov at the ceremony.
The Moskva can carry up to 510 sailors, and there was no indication on the whereabouts or status of the remaining personnel.
However, conscripts working on board the ship have begun to give terrifying descriptions of the sinking, with one telling his parents that at least 40 members of the crew were dead, with "many" missing or disfigured as a result of the strike. Hundreds of people are said to have killed when the ship sank.
Parents of another conscript say they have found out some 200 were wounded, many with horrific burns and other major injuries. "I first heard from him only on 15 April, two days after the incident," a distraught mother told Novaya Gazeta, Russia's leading investigative media outlet which is now operating outside Russia after being gagged by Putin.
"My son said the cruiser was hit from the land, from the Ukrainian side, because the fire on board would not have started without a reason. There are people who were killed, wounded and missing. My son called me as soon as they were given phones [after being rescued]. Their documents and phones were on the cruiser. He called me, and he cried over what he had seen. It was horrendous. Clearly not everyone survived," she said
The stories are possibly true given the footage that has emerged now.
President Volodymyr Zelensky told Ukrainians after the ship was sunk that they should be proud of themselves for surviving 50 days under siege when the Russians "only gave us five."