Ukraine: Russia's Black Sea Moskva flagship sinks
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The 510-crew warship, which was the third-largest vessel in Russia’s active fleet, sank on April 14 with Kyiv claiming it struck the vessel with two missiles and help from US intelligence to locate its whereabouts.
The Russian media for weeks claimed the Slava-class cruiser was sunk by an unexplained fire while the ship was being towed back to port.
The information came from Russia’s defence ministry which made no mention of Ukraine’s missile strikes.
Moskva, which sank in the Black Sea after US intelligence helped Ukraine’s forces identify the location of the vessel, was a huge blow to the Russian forces.
At the time, the Russian defence ministry said ammunition onboard exploded in an unexplained fire and the ship tipped over while on its way back to the port.
Prior to the sinking, Russia’s defence ministry issued a statement saying: “The vessel is seriously damaged. The entire crew have been evacuated”.
But a later statement the same day announced that on its journey back to port the ship “lost its stability”.
The statement said: “The cruiser ship Moskva lost its stability when it was towed to the port because of the damage to the ship’s hull that it received during the fire from the detonation of ammunition. In stormy sea conditions, the ship sank.”
However, Kremlin analyst Olga Lautman, said Russian media has now gone against the ministry’s claims, reporting that US intelligence helped Ukraine sink the ship, which was reported on CNN.
She said: “Fascinating that Russian media is reporting the CNN report that US intel helped sink Moskva. The Kremlin will have a lot of explaining to do in the morning after telling Russians for weeks that a ‘fire’ was responsible for the sinking.
“This was already a sensitive issue due to coverup and lack of answers of the events and how many survived. This will make Putin look weak”.
At least 10 families came forward publicly on social media or in the press, after the ship sank, to voice their frustration that they have been told by different officers or others that their conscripted sons were either alive, missing or dead.
The Kremlin initially announced that the more than 500 crew members on the cruiser were all rescued and the defence ministry published footage showing what it described as the crew of the Moskva on parade in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol.
But later said one crew member had died despite many family members still demanding answers about their lost loved ones.
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Speaking about the Russian news outlet that announced the US and Ukraine involvement, Ms Lautman said: “To be more specific it was put out by one main Russian outlet that has a large viewership and picked up by several secondary outlets. The other main outlets are quiet about this”.
After the ship sank, CNN reported that the US provided intelligence to Ukraine about the ship’s location but claimed they didn’t know Kyiv was planning to strike the vessel.
In a statement, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said: “We did not provide Ukraine with specific targeting information for the Moskva.
“We were not involved in the Ukrainians’ decision to strike the ship or in the operation they carried out. We had no prior knowledge of Ukraine’s intent to target the ship.
“The Ukrainians have their own intelligence capabilities to track and target Russian naval vessels, as they did in this case.”
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