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Russia confirmed on Wednesday that the flagship of its Black Sea Fleet had been evacuated after being “severely damaged”, saying a fire on board had caused an explosion, Russian media reported.
The ship was evacuated, Reuters reported.
However, Ukrainian officials said their military hit the ship with two cruise missiles. Russia did not go into specifics about what it believed caused the fire.
Maksym Marchenko, governor of the Odessa region in southern Ukraine, said: “The Neptune missiles guarding the Black Sea caused very serious damage” to the Russian missile cruiser Moskva.
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Unconfirmed reports early Thursday said the ship had sunk.
Last month, Ukraine said it had destroyed another key Russian vessel in the Sea of Azov, the Orsk, a landing support ship.
Russian navy ships have been strategically placed in the Black Sea to support military efforts to take control of southern Ukrainian port cities like Mariupol, according to Reuters.
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Ukraine says tens of thousands of people died in Mariupol and the government has accused Russia of war crimes there and in other cities for allegedly targeting civilians.