A Russian warship that was damaged by an explosion on Wednesday has sunk, Russia’s defence ministry has said.
Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, was being towed to port when “stormy seas” caused it to sink, according to a ministry message.
The 510-crew vessel was an important symbolic and military target, and has led Russia’s naval assault on Ukraine.
Ukraine claims it struck the warship with its missiles, but Russia has made no mention of an attack.
Late on Thursday, however, Russian state media broke the news that the ship had been lost.
“While being towed … towards the destined port, the vessel lost its balance due to damage sustained in the hull as fire broke out after ammunition exploded. Given the choppy seas, the vessel sank,” state news agency Tass quoted the ministry as saying.
Earlier, Russia had said there was a fire on board after ammunition exploded.
Ukrainian military officials said they struck the Moskva with a Ukrainian-made Neptune missile – a weapon designed after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, and the naval threat to Ukraine in the Black Sea grew.
Earlier in the conflict the Moskva gained notoriety after calling on Ukrainian border troops defending Snake Island in the Black Sea to surrender – to which they memorably radioed a message of refusal which loosely translates as “go to hell”.
Originally built in Ukraine in the Soviet-era, the Moskva entered service in the early 1980s according to Russian media.
The missile cruiser was previously deployed by Moscow in the Syria conflict where it supplied Russian forces in the country with naval protection.
It carries over a dozen Vulkan anti-ship missiles and an array of anti-submarine and mine-torpedo weapons, the reports said.
The Moskva is the second major Russian ship known to have been severely damaged since the invasion began.
Namesake Glory (1979–2000), Moscow (2000–2022)
Builder 61 Kommunara Shipbuilding Plant (SY 445), Nikolayev, Soviet Union
Laid down 1976
Commissioned 30 January 1983
Decommissioned September 1990
Reinstated April 2000
Fate Sunk on 14 April 2022, responsibility disputed
Notes Flagship of the Black Sea Fleet