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Ukrainian Missile Strike Sank Russian Warship Moskva, Pentagon Official Says


The Russian cruiser Moskva sank after it was hit by two Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missiles Wednesday, a U.S. defense official said Friday, contradicting Russian claims that an accidental explosion was responsible for the loss of the flagship of the Black Sea fleet.

Russian warship Moskva AFP via Getty Images

Key Facts

There are “likely casualties” from the incident, a Pentagon official said U.S. intelligence had assessed at a press briefing, though the Kremlin had said the roughly 500-member crew was evacuated

The demise of the heavily armed warship which had 16 launchers for anti-ship missiles and vertical tubes for 64 air-defense missiles is a significant setback for Russia, the defense official said.

The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense said in a tweet overnight Friday that Russia will likely “review its maritime posture in the Black Sea” following the sinking of the warship, which played “a key role as both a command vessel and air defence node.”

Key Background

The Pentagon on Thursday said there was an explosion aboard the warship and it was sinking but couldn’t confirm the cause of the damage. Ukraine and Russia provided dueling statements on what led to the ship’s demise. The governor of Ukraine’s Odessa region said two Ukrainian-made Neptune cruise missiles struck the warship, and the Ukrainian military said the attack caused the ship to sink. Russia’s Ministry of Defense acknowledged Wednesday the ship was damaged but said it was due to a fire that caused an explosion in its ammunition magazine, and said Thursday the warship sank due to “stormy sea” conditions while being towed to port hours after claiming the ship remained afloat. Reports show mild weather in the Black Sea at the time.

Further Reading

Russian Warship Moskva Sinks Off Ukraine, State Media Reports (Forbes)

Russian Warship Mystery: Fire Onboard Moskva Reportedly Out—But Cause Still A Mystery (Forbes)

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