The flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet was heavily damaged and its entire crew evacuated Wednesday, according to the Russian news agency TASS.
Citing the Russian Defense Ministry, TASS reported that “A fire onboard the Mosvka missile cruiser caused a blast of the broadside munitions. The ship received serious damage. The crew was evacuated.”
Russian officials did not offer details as to the cause of the fire, but Ukrainian regional governor Maksym Marchenko said on Telegram that Ukrainian missiles “caused very serious damage to the Russian ship.” There were unconfirmed reports that the cruiser — Russia’s largest warship in the Black Sea — had been struck by Neptune anti-ship missiles fired from Ukraine, and sunk.
The ship carried a crew of more than 500.
The loss of the ship would be another major embarrassment for Russian forces, and a significant tactical military victory and propaganda win for Ukraine.
The Moskva, a Slava-class guided missile cruiser, was involved in the attack on Ukraine’s Snake Island in the early days of the war, where it was one of two ships demanding the surrender of the Ukrainian garrison, who responded: “Russian warship, go f— yourself.”
The Moskva is the second major Russian warship lost in the war so far; in late March, a Ukrainian missile struck the landing ship Orsk in the Azov Sea port of Berdyansk, Ukraine.