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Sinking of warship Moskva means Russia likely to review position in Black Sea, says UK

Damage to two key Russian naval assets, including the sinking of the warship Moskva, is likely to lead Russia to review its maritime posture in the Black Sea, British defence chiefs have said.

Russia’s defence ministry on Thursday admitted the flagship Russian warship, the Moskva, had sunk as it was being towed to port after being damaged by fire. Ukraine says it hit the ship with neptune anti-ship missiles.

In a briefing on Friday, London’s Ministry of Defence said the Moskva served a key role as both a command vessel and air defence node.

It said the incident meant Russia has suffered damage to two key naval assets since invading Ukraine, the first being Russia’s Alligator-class landing ship Saratov on March 24.

“Both events will likely lead Russia to review its maritime posture in the Black Sea,” it said.

The Soviet-era Moskva was one of only three Slava-class cruisers in the Russian navy.

“Originally commissioned in 1979, the Moskva had completed an extensive refit designed to improve its capability and only returned to operational status in 2021,” the Ministry of Defence said.

The Russian state media agency, TASS, quoted the Russian ministry of defence as saying, “the vessel lost its balance due to damage sustained in the hull” as it was being towed to port.

The ship was the one used by Russian forces as they demanded that Ukrainians on Snake Island surrender - only to be told, “Russian warship, go f*** yourself”.

The incident is considered an iconic moment of defiance and Ukraijne recently unveiled a postage stamp commemorating it.

Ukraine’s Odesa region’s governor Maksym Marchenko said his country’s forces struck the ship with two neptune anti-ship missiles.

The news of the flagship’s damage overshadowed Russian claims of advances in the southern port city of Mariupol, which has witnessed some of the heaviest fighting of the war.

Western officials said earlier on Thursday that the damage to the flagship warship was another sign of Russian incompetence.

“Whether it’s as a consequence of ineptitude on board or an attack by Ukrainian forces,” said a Western official, “regardless of how it’s happened, it’s a massive blow for Russian credibility.

“I think that’s why we’re seeing conflicting Russian narratives in that space.

“Because either they’ve been vulnerable to an attack by Ukrainians, and that questions their competence, or they have had a fire on board a capital ship, which has then resulted in detonation of its magazine, where its ammunition is stored, and that is just another bit of incompetence.”

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