First video of sinking Russian warship Moskva appears online

The Moskva had a crew of about 500 sailors.

The first visuals of the sinking Russian missile cruiser Moskva, flagship of its Black Sea Fleet, have appeared online. Ukraine said Moskva’s fate was sealed by a missile strike launched by its forces from the coast last week that ripped open the hull of the Soviet-era vessel, while Russia claimed that it was a fire and explosions involving ammunition stored on board that doomed the ship.

The Moskva had a crew of around 500 sailors, who Russia says were successfully evacuated to other ships before being returned to their home port of Sevastopol in Crimea on Friday. Ukraine has hinted that there are likely to have been fatalities.

NDTV cannot independently verify the authenticity of the video.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said the loss of the Moskva would likely prompt Russia to reconsider its naval position in the Black Sea. US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters news agency that while the sinking would have a symbolic impact and could raise questions about Russia’s longer-term naval capabilities, it is unlikely likely to have a major impact on the course of the conflict. The Russian Navy has so far not played a big role.

A US official said Russia has used its warships only to a limited extent, to conduct occasional strikes and resupply troops in the south. Russia retains naval dominance in the immediate area, and Moskva was equipped to destroy enemy ships at sea, but little of the Ukrainian navy remains.

Some analysts say the Moskva may have helped support a possible Russian amphibious landing in the Ukrainian port of Odessa that has yet to take place due to resistance from Ukrainian forces. Its sinking may be seen in some Ukrainian quarters as reducing the chances of such an assault and allowing Ukraine to redeploy some of its forces elsewhere.

Russia has two other ships of the same class, Marshal Ustinov and Varyag, which serve with Russia’s Northern and Pacific Fleets respectively. Turkey, which controls access to the Black Sea via the Bosphorus, will not let them in during wartime.

Designed in the 1970s Soviet Union during the Cold War, it was designed to destroy American aircraft carriers and had been in service for almost four decades. It underwent an extensive overhaul and, according to the UK Ministry of Defence, did not return to operational status until 2021. Despite this overhaul, some of its hardware remained obsolete.

The sinking of the Moskva is a bitter loss for the Russian military, as the ship, although aging, was a symbol of the Crimean-based Black Sea Fleet and Russian military pride. If holed by Ukrainian anti-ship missiles, it would be the largest Russian warship lost in action since 1941, when German dive bombers crippled the Soviet battleship Marat in the port of Kronshtadt.

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