The Russian Navy’s Black Sea flagship has been severely damaged, and the crew has abandoned ship, according to state media reports published late Tuesday in response to Ukrainian claims that the ship was targeted by a missile strike.
According to state-run news agency TASS, the Russian Defense Ministry verified the incident on the RTS Moskva (121), a ship of the country’s Black Sea Fleet.
The crew of the Moskva, the Black Sea Fleet’s flagship, was severely injured and abandoned ship, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
According to TASS, a fire broke out on the ship, prompting ammunition to detonate. The cause of the fire was not revealed by state media.
Moskva, which was operating from the Black Sea Fleet’s headquarters in Sevastopol, Crimea, was allegedly damaged by shore-based anti-ship guided missiles, according to Ukrainian officials.
“It has been confirmed that the missile cruiser Moskva arrived on Snake Island today exactly where our border guards directed it!” Maksym Marchenko, the governor of Odesa, said in a Telegram message on Tuesday.
“The Russian ship was severely damaged by Neptune missiles patrolling the Black Sea.”
Neptunes are based on the Soviet AS-20 ‘Kayak’ anti-ship missile, which is identical to the US-built Harpoon missile. They were first deployed in 2021.
Moskva, one of three Slava-class guided-missile cruisers, was commissioned into the Soviet Navy in 1982.
The launchers on the three 11,500-ton Slavas can hold 16 SS-N-12 Sandbox anti-ship cruise missiles, each roughly the size of a telephone pole. The Slavas and Sandboxes were developed in the 1970s to take on US and NATO aircraft carriers by bombarding them with a salvo of high-speed cruise missiles designed to sink ships.
RTS Marshal Ustinov (055) and RFS Varyag (011) are two other Slavas that have been operating in the Mediterranean.
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The Russian cruiser Moskva is not the first to be destroyed during Russia’s nearly 50-day invasion of Ukraine. According to USNI News, a landing ship capsized off the coast of Berdiansk, Ukraine, after being targeted by Ukrainian forces.