According to many reports, the Ukrainian military has severely damaged the Russian Black Sea flagship, Moskva, a Slava-class cruiser. The Wall Street Journal reports:
The loss of Russia’s Moskva cruiser, which the Kremlin says was abandoned by its crew in the Black Sea after an explosion, deprives Moscow of a potent weapon that for weeks had been firing cruise missiles at targets in Ukraine.
The Moskva and other ships have played an important role in the Russian war effort with their missile strikes because Russian warplanes have been limited in their operations by Ukraine’s air defenses.
Commissioned in 1982 and over 600 feet long, the Moskva carried S-300 air defense systems and P-1000 supersonic cruise missiles. It was also outfitted with the multiple-rocket launching system Smerch-2.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said Thursday that the warship was seriously damaged and abandoned following a fire that led to the explosion. It said the fire had been put out, explosions of ammunition had been stopped and the vessel was still afloat.
A Ukrainian military spokesman said the ship had been hit by cruise missiles, causing it to capsize and start to sink. The governor of Ukraine’s coastal region of Odessa, Maksym Marchenko, said the ship was struck with a Ukrainian Neptune antiship missile, which the country had earlier this year said would be deployed by April. The claim couldn’t be independently verified.
The strike on the vessel could compromise security for Russia’s entire Black Sea Fleet, according to military analysts.
“One of Moskva’s key roles was providing area air defense for the Black Sea Fleet,” said Nick Brown, a defense analyst at Janes, a defense-industry publication. “We expect the damage to be significant, but it was built in Ukraine and there is drydock capacity in Crimea, so if it is not catastrophic then Russia may make symbolic attempts to repair and refit.”
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