Russia claims one sailor dead and 27 missing following sinking of Black Sea warship Moskva

·3-min read

Russian state media has claimed that one sailor has died and that 27 are missing after the sinking of the Black Sea warship Moskva.

The RIA news agency cited the Russian defence ministry, which also said that 396 members of the crew have been rescued.

While Moscow claims the Black Sea flagship sank last week after a fire led to an ammunition explosion, Ukraine has said that it took down the ship using missiles.

Christo Grozev, a Bulgarian investigative journalist and lead Russia investigator at Bellingcat, shared his scepticism of the Russian defence ministry’s claim.

“Russia’s MoD claims only one person died on board the sunk Moskva cruiser, with 27 ‘missing’ (is there another word for missing in the sea??) and 396 ‘evacuated to Sevastopol’. So they’re saying essentially 28 killed and 396 saved. Highly improbable given the damage,” he tweeted.

“As a result of a fire on April 13, the Moskva missile cruiser was seriously damaged due to the detonation of ammunition,” the ministry said in a statement published by Russian news agencies. “One serviceman was killed, another 27 crew members went missing,” they said.

“The remaining 396 members,” were evacuated, they claimed.

In a previous statement, the ministry said that “as the result of a fire on the Moskva missile cruiser, ammunition detonated. The ship was seriously damaged ... The crew was completely evacuated”.

Russia claims that crew members from the sunken missile cruiser Moskva lined up for a meeting with the head of the Russian navy (via REUTERS)
Russia claims that crew members from the sunken missile cruiser Moskva lined up for a meeting with the head of the Russian navy (via REUTERS)

A picture of the warship burning before it sank in the Black Sea is genuine, an expert has said.

The first verified images of the damaged cruiser, which show her listing to port with smoke billowing from her midships section, appeared days after Ukraine said it had sunk the ship in a missile attack.

Although the Kremlin has acknowledged the loss of the vessel, it continues to claim the ship was destroyed by an on-board explosion rather than by enemy weapons.

Sidharth Kaushal, a sea power research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), confirmed the latest pictures do show the Moskva gutted by fire.

“I have examined the images and they are of the Moskva,” he told The Independent.

“The placement of the radar – visible in the photo – the canisters for surface to air and surface to surface missiles and the hull form all seem to confirm that they are of a Slava-class cruiser, and thus must be the Moskva.”

Ukraine’s Operational Command South claimed on Thursday that the Moskva began to take on water after it was struck by Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missiles.

“In the Black Sea operational zone, Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles hit the cruiser Moskva, the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet – it received significant damage,” the statement said.

“A fire broke out. Other units of the ship’s group tried to help, but a storm and a powerful explosion of ammunition overturned the cruiser and it began to sink.”

Russia’s version of events has been rejected by a senior US defence official, citing military intelligence.

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