Russia’s major warship the ‘Moskva’ was evacuated Wednesday after an ammunition explosion triggered a ravenous fire that will likely sink the ship.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday night that the cruiser suffered “serious damage,” adding that the cause of the fire was under investigation.
The entire 500-man crew has been “safely” evacuated, Russian military said.
However, Ukrainian officials on Wednesday evening claimed that a battery of their Neptune anti-ship missiles hidden in Odessa had successfully struck the Moskva twice, setting the cruiser ablaze.
Among those making the claim were Maksim Marchenko, head of the military administration in Odessa, and Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Interior Ministry in Kiev.
The Slava-class missile cruiser, launched in 1979, is armed with 16 anti-ship missiles and many more air defense missiles, torpedoes and guns. It is part of the Black Sea fleet, and has been engaged in operations off the coast of Ukraine since February.
Whatever the truth, the destruction of the ship is a setback for the Russian military campaign in Ukraine.
This is because The Moskva is the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and one of the largest capital ships in the Russian Navy.
Ukraine is claiming to have hit with a missile strike. Russian state media is reporting that it was caused by a smoking accident.