The Russian Navy's famed Black Sea ship the Moskva missile cruiser was badly damaged after being hit by Ukrainian missiles blew up the ammunitions on board the vessel, Russia said on Thursday. Interestingly, the Moskva missile cruiser is the same ship that opened fire on Ukrainian troops defending Snake Island during the initial days of the war.
The news of the dame was also confirmed by the Russia Defense Ministry, according to state-run news agency TASS. The Moskva missile cruiser is Russia's Black Sea fleet's largest battleship, and the incident could be a turning point in the conflict, as Putin's forces continue to suffer heavy losses.
Big Blow for Russia
Earlier, the governor of Odesa claimed that Ukrainian forces had hit the cruiser with missiles on Wednesday, but he could not provide any evidence to back up his assertion. On Thursday, Russia confirmed that Moskva Project 1164 missile cruiser, suffered "severe damage" after ammunition exploded onboard.
The crew of the Moskva, the Black Sea Fleet's flagship, was severely injured and abandoned the ship, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. Ukrainian officials claimed that shore-based anti-ship guided missiles hit Moskva which had been operating from the Black Sea Fleet's headquarters in Sevastopol, Crimea.
Weather conditions in the Black Sea were said to be terrible as word of the explosion arrived, prompting concerns about whether the warship could stay afloat if it was severely damaged in the explosion and evacuated.
However, Russia is yet to confirm if the damage was caused because of Ukrainian missile strikes.
Ukraine although has taken responsibility of dealing this major blow to the Russian forces. "Neptune missiles guarding the Black Sea caused very serious damage to the Russian ship. Glory to Ukraine!" Odesa governor Maksym Marchenko wrote on Telegram.
Confirming the news of Ukrainian missiles striking Moskva, Ukrainian presidential advisor Oleksiy Arestovych said, "It burns strongly. Right now. And with this stormy sea it is unknown whether they will be able to receive help. There are 510 crew members,"
The Mosvka (Moscow) gained notoriety in the early days of the war between Russia and Ukraine when Ukrainian border troops defending the strategic 'Snake Island' were heard in a viral audio recording telling the warship to "go f**k yourself" after its crew called on them to surrender.
Russia Continues to Suffer
The Moskva was claimed to be armed with 16 anti-ship 'Vulkan' cruise missiles with a range of at least 440 miles, according to Russian news media. Interfax would not provide any additional information about the incident.
Neptunes are based on the Soviet AS-20 'Kayak' anti-ship missile, which is identical to the US-built Harpoon missile. They were first deployed in 2021.
Moskva, one of three Slava-class guided-missile cruisers, was commissioned into the Soviet Navy in 1982. The launchers on the three 11,500-ton Slavas can hold 16 SS-N-12 Sandbox anti-ship cruise missiles, each roughly the size of a telephone pole.
The Slavas and Sandboxes were developed in the 1970s to take on US and NATO aircraft carriers by bombarding them with a salvo of high-speed cruise missiles designed to sink ships.
A veteran Russian admiral was quoted by Interfax in April 2021 as saying, "This is the most serious ship in the Black Sea."
Moskva is not the first Russian warship to be damaged in the nearly 50-day invasion of Ukraine. A landing ship sank off the port of Ukrainian city Berdiansk after being attacked by Ukrainian forces, USNI News had earlier reported.