Russia’s Defense Ministry says Russian sailors have fired its first guided missile ship, the Black Sea Fleet, from Moscow.
Ukraine’s operational command said on Thursday that Moscow began to sink after being hit by anti-ship Neptune anti-ship missiles.
“In the Black Sea Operational Zone, Neptune’s anti-ship missiles hit the Russian Black Sea Navy’s flagship cruiser, Moscow – which caused significant damage,” the report said. “A fire broke out. Other sections of the ship’s crew tried to help, but a storm and a powerful explosive device sank the ship and it began to sink.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Thursday that Moskva was “out of stock” and that steps were being taken to pull it out of port. The ministry said personnel had been evacuated to other Black Sea naval vessels in the area.
The Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to answer questions about Moscow’s fate during a daily press conference on Thursday.
“This is a matter for the Ministry of Defense and I can not say anything,” he said.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told CNN’s Briana Kayler that there was an “explosion” in Moscow, but that the United States could not immediately say whether the ship was hit by a missile.
“We do not know exactly what happened here. We estimate that there was an explosion on this ship, at least one explosion. One of the most important is that it caused extensive damage to the ship,” Kirby said.
“We estimate that the ship could build its own route, and it does; we think it’s going further, and now, heading east. We think it will be placed in Sevastopol for repairs,” he added.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Thursday that “this coming out is a big blow to Russia” because Moscow had to admit that its primary was badly damaged.
“They had to choose between two stories. One story it was incompetence, the other they were attacked. And they did not have a good ending,” Sullivan told the audience. Economic Club of Washington, D.C.
Analysts say that no matter what happens to Moscow, its loss will hit the heart of the Russian Navy and national pride hard, comparable to the loss of a warship or aircraft carrier by the US Navy today during World War II.
“The loss of a ballistic missile submarine or Kutsnetsov (Russia’s private aircraft carrier) will only have a serious impact on the morale of the Russian people and the reputation of the Navy,” said Carl Schuster, a retired U.S. Navy captain and former director. Activities at the Joint Intelligence Center of the U.S. Pacific Command.
Alessio Badlano, a professor of war and strategy at King’s College London, said the loss of the warship was a “massive blow” to Russia.
“Ships are a distraction from the public’s, and their activities are seldom the subject of news. But they are large floating pieces of national territory. , “He said.
The 611-foot (186 m) Moskva, with nearly 500 personnel, is the pride of the Russian Navy in the Black Sea. Originally renamed Slava in the Soviet Navy in the 1980s, it was renamed Moscow in 1995 and after re-entering service in 1998, according to the military site Naval-Technology.com.
Moscow is armed with anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles and torpedoes and naval rifles and close missile defense systems.
They all represent massive bombs in its ammunition magazines. Any fire approaching them would have given the crew limited options to deal with the threat, Schuster said.
“When your ammunition magazine (s) catch fire, you have two options; 1) sink them or 2) abandon the ship,” Schuster said. “Otherwise, your crew will be destroyed by a devastating explosion following a fire that will reach several hundred tons of weapons.”
Odessa state regional administrator Maxim Marchenko said in a telegram that Ukrainian forces had attacked Moscow using Neptune missiles. Schuster said that, if true, would be the largest warship ever taken by a Moscow missile.
Such an achievement would reflect a major improvement for Kiev’s forces.
Neptune is a Ukrainian weapon, domestically developed based on the Soviet KH-35 cruise missile. According to Ukrainian media reports, it began operating in Ukrainian forces last year.
A post on Lieutenant Cmdr’s International Maritime Defense Center (CIMSEC) website states that if used to attack Moscow, it would be Neptune’s first known use during the war. Jason Lancaster, U.S. Navy Surface War Officer.
His post for CIMSEC on Tuesday said that the threat posed by mobile land-based ship missiles such as Neptune “changes the operational behavior” of the enemy.
Lancaster wrote that Russia would “work in ways to reduce the risk of finding ships and increase the chances of defending themselves.” “These behavioral changes limit the ability of the Russian navy to use themselves to their advantage. The extra stress of a sudden war increases fatigue and leads to mistakes.”
According to Patalno, the war professor: “The Russians today seem to have learned the hard way.”
In a CIMSEC post, Lancaster notes that the British Royal Navy lost several ships to missiles fired by Argentina during the 1982 Falklands War.
During that war, a British submarine sank the Argentine cruiser General Belkrano, about the size of Moscow.
According to Oleksi Arrestovich, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky, Moscow also gives Ukraine symbolic significance on the ships involved in the famous exchange on Snake Island in February.
A Ukrainian soldier replied: “Russian warship, go yourself.”
If Moscow disappears, it will be the second-largest Russian naval ship to enjoy that fate during Moscow’s war with Ukraine.
Nathan Hodge and Olga Voitovich contributed to this report from LV, Ukraine. Natasha Bertrand, Anna Chernova and Radina Djokovic also contributed to the report.