Missile cruiser, not battleship. And Russia continues to claim that it wasn’t Ukrainian arms but a “fire” that sank the ship, even though no one believes them.
But close enough.
— darth™ (@darth) April 14, 2022
This is a good one too:
How it started / how it’s going. pic.twitter.com/nASeuqwOO4
— Michael Weiss 🌻🇺🇸🇮🇪 (@michaeldweiss) April 14, 2022
The left-hand image is an actual Ukrainian postage stamp designed to commemorate the famous incident at the start of the war when Ukrainian troops defending Snake Island were given an ultimatum by the commander of a Russian ship to surrender and responded with “Russian warship, go f*** yourself.” The right-hand image is a photoshop reimagining of current reality.
It’s accurate too: The Russian warship that was told to go f*** itself was none other than the Moskva, the cruiser that now rests at the bottom of the Black Sea.
There was some dispute as to its fate this morning. The Ukrainians claimed they’d struck it with missiles; the Russians said only that there’d been a fire aboard that caused ammunition to detonate (which doesn’t contradict Ukraine’s version of events) but that the fire was under control and the ship was still afloat and being towed to Russia’s base in Sevastopol for repairs. Salvaging the Moskva would have been a moral victory for Moscow, denying Ukrainians the right to boast that they’d sunk the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet.
Then, a few hours ago, word came from Russian media: The Moskva is gone. It sank while being towed.
BREAKING from Russian Ministry of Defense: Russian cruiser Moskva sank in stormy waters while being towed to Crimea. The sailors were evacuated to other ships
— Dmitri Alperovitch (@DAlperovitch) April 14, 2022
Interesting development. Russia can try to spin what happened, lie about the amount of damage, say there was a Black Sea storm (there wasn’t)…but it’s hard to counter the Moskva resting on the bottom & no news on the crew. https://t.co/h4QegLUGg8
— Mark Hertling (@MarkHertling) April 14, 2022
Russia claims that the crew of 500+ managed to evacuate but there’s no reason to believe them. If all or most aboard were lost, it would be the biggest naval catastrophe in war in a long time:
Reports now coming in saying that the Moskva has now sunk to the bottom of the Black Sea.
This is most likely the largest mass-casualty event that the Russian Armed Forces have suffered since Putin launched this war of aggression. pic.twitter.com/1zd09NVyZT
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) April 14, 2022
The Pentagon can’t confirm what happened exactly to damage the ship but believes that a “significant explosion” occurred onboard. Which raises an interesting theory:
— David Shukman (@DavidShukman) April 14, 2022
“After the explosion, four or five other Russian warships in the northern part of the Black Sea repositioned farther away from shore,” said a U.S. official. Why would they do that if Russia is telling the truth about the Moskva, that its damage was caused by a “fire” rather than a Ukrainian attack? More from WaPo:
Experts Thursday lent credibility to Ukraine’s account.
One Moscow-based think tank, the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said on its Telegram channel that it believed the ship had been sunk.
“The flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva cruiser, was indeed attacked by the Neptune anti-ship missiles from the coastline between Odessa and Mykolaiv,” it said, adding that a drone distracted the ship before the missiles hit.
I wrote earlier that, for all the justified hype about what a blow the ship’s loss is to Russian morale, it’s also a serious blow to Russian capabilities in southern Ukraine. The Moscow Times elaborates:
The 186-meter-long vessel is the third-largest in Russia’s active fleet, and crucial to Russian naval power. The only Russian warship capable of carrying nuclear weapons, the Moskva is one of three Soviet-era “Slava”-class guided missile cruisers.
Since Russia launched its attack on neighboring Ukraine in February, the 12,500-ton Moskva has been used as a crucial store of defensive weapons and air defense missiles, as well as a hub for coordinating naval attacks, according to experts…
“Without the Moskva, it would seem that a marine operation against Odessa or Mykolaiv is impossible right now,” said Luzhin.
If Russia and NATO had ever faced off, the Moskva would have been a key asset in controlling the Black Sea. Now it’s a fun new reef for fish to explore, and further evidence of which side is winning this war:
Final comment on the Moskva thinking because it encapsulates what is now apparent. We have one military (Ukr) that is clearly learning, thinking and acting. It took a while, but it came up with an plan to take out the flagship of the Russian Navy. It adjusted and was effective
— Phillips P. OBrien (@PhillipsPOBrien) April 14, 2022
So the thinking of the Moskva is important as an event, but its perhaps even more important in what it indicates about how Ukraine and Russia are conducting this war.
— Phillips P. OBrien (@PhillipsPOBrien) April 14, 2022
As one Twitter pal put it: How do you lose naval superiority to a country that doesn’t have a navy?
By the way, in case you’re wondering whether Russia has any aircraft carriers: Yes, it has one. But the history of that carrier is … well, let’s just say it’s very Russian. It’s currently undergoing repairs that are expected to last until September, which is exactly where you want your carrier to be in the middle of a hot war in which you’re being humiliated.
On the bright side for Russia, though, at least the Ukrainians won’t get a chance to sink that one.