After the Russian warship Moskva sank on Wednesday, Ukrainian and Russian sources differed on the cause.
The Ukrainian military claimed that it brought down the ship with missiles while the Russians argued that the ship was hit with “stormy seas” that caused it to sink, according to a ministry message.
The US Pentagon, however, stated on Friday that, according to its own sources, the ship was in fact hit by Ukrainian missiles, which caused it to sink.
A US Defense official stated to The Washington Post that Movska, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet and symbol of the country’s naval power, was hit by two Neptune missiles, which then sparked an explosion.
US confirms Russian ship downed by Ukrainian missiles
This statement aligns with Ukraine’s official position that its missiles hit the 510-crew missile cruiser. On Thursday, Ukraine’s Operational Command South claimed that the Moskva had begun to sink after it was hit 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, and “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 has not reported any attack and says the vessel sank after a fire. The blaze caused the explosion of the warship’s ammunition, Russia says, adding that the entire crew was later evacuated to nearby Russian vessels in the Black Sea. It provided no further details.
Moskva saw service in Georgia, Syria, Ukraine
The Soviet-era vessel saw service during conflicts in Georgia, Syria, and Ukraine and helped conduct peacetime scientific research with the United States.
The 12,500 ton Moskva was armed with multiple anti-ship and surface-to-air missiles and was the only ship of its class in the Black Sea. The two other missile cruisers—the Marshal Ustinov and the Varyag—are deployed with Russia’s Northern and Pacific fleets, respectively.