One of the most important warships of the Russian Navy sank this Thursday in the Black Sea after a series of explosions on board. His disappearance represents a serious blow to Moscow, which faces an unexpected Ukrainian fifty days after the start of the invasion commanded by Vladimir Putin.
Russian state news agency TASS received permission to report Thursday night that the guided missile cruiser Moscow had sunk, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. But the circumstances of the incident vary according to the versions of both sides.
«During the towing of the cruiser Moscow At the port of destination, the military ship lost its stability due to damage to the hull received during a fire due to the detonation of ammunition. In the conditions of stormy seas, the ship sank,” the statement said, according to TASS.
But Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command said on Thursday that the Moscow had begun to sink after being hit by missiles from the Ukrainian ship Neptune.
“In the Black Sea operational zone, anti-ship cruise missiles Neptune hit the cruiser Moscow, the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, which received significant damage,” the statement said. “There was a fire. Other units tried to help, but a storm and a powerful explosion of ammunition capsized the cruiser and she began to sink ».
Russia said a fire broke out on the cruise ship, causing ammunition on board to explode, inflicting serious damage to the vessel and forcing the crew to be evacuated.
The international press stationed at the scene has not been able to independently confirm the news.
Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry had said that the Moscow “remained afloat” and that steps were being taken to tow it to a safe port. The Ministry said the crew had been transferred to other ships of the Black Sea Fleet.
The Moscow It is the largest military cruiser Russia had. Her tonnage was similar to that of the General Blegranethe flagship of the Argentine Navy sunk in the South Atlantic by a British atomic submarine during the Falklands War, in 1982.
In the morning the Pentagon’s press secretary, John Kirby, told CNN: “there was an explosion” in the Moscow. But he clarified that the United States could not say whether the ship had been hit by a missile.
“We’re not exactly sure what happened here. We assess that there was an explosion, at least one explosion on this cruise ship. A fairly large explosion, which has caused great damage », he said.
In addition, “we assess that the ship can follow its own path, and is doing so […] We think to the east. We believe that it will probably be installed in Sevastapol for repairs, “he added.
But on that journey the ship sank.
President Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Thursday that “the way this has played out is a huge blow to Russia” as Moscow had to admit its flagship was badly damaged.
“And they have had to choose between two stories. One story is that it was just incompetence, and the other is that they were attacked. And it’s not a particularly good result for them, either,” Sullivan told an audience at the Washington DC Economic Club.
Analysts believe that the collapse of the Moscow It is a heavy blow to the heart of the Russian Navy and to national pride, comparable to the loss of a US Navy battleship like the philadelphia during World War II or to an aircraft carrier today.
“Just the loss of a ballistic missile submarine or the [Almirante] Kutznetsov [el único portaviones de Rusia)] it would inflict a more serious blow to Russian morale and to the reputation of the navy among the Russian public,” said Carl Schuster, a retired US Navy captain and former director of operations at the Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center.
Alessio Patalano, professor of warfare and strategy at King’s College London, said losing the warship was a “major blow” to Russia.
“The ships operate far from the public eye and their activities are rarely the subject of news. But they are big floating chunks of national territory, and when you lose one, a flagship no less, the political and symbolic message, in addition to the military loss, stands out precisely because of that,” he said.
The Moscow It was 611 feet long (186 meters) with a crew of almost 500 sailors. She was the pride of the Russian naval fleet in the Black Sea. Originally christened in the Soviet Navy as slave In the 1980s, it was renamed Moscow in 1995, and after a repair it returned to service in 1998, according to the military site Naval-Technology.com.
The Moscow it was armed with 16 anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles, as well as torpedoes, naval guns and anti-missile defense systems.
They all represent massive amounts of explosive devices in their ammunition magazines. Any fire that came close to them would have given the crew limited options in dealing with the threat, Schuster said.
“When a fire gets to their ammunition magazines, they have two options: flood them or abandon ship,” Schuster said. “Otherwise, your crew will be wiped out in a catastrophic explosion…”