New photos show Russian warship Moskva before it sank

The sinking of the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet was the biggest warship loss in 40 years – and a huge embarrassment for Russia.

The images show the Moskva list on one side, with black holes from possible missile puncture marks, and significant scarring at and just above the waterline on the port (left) side in the middle of the ship.

A large plume of black smoke can be seen rising upwards, partially obscuring the bow of the distressed vessel.

Analysts who spoke to CNN confirmed that the warship in the images resembled the Moskva, a Slava-class guided-missile destroyer and the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

Ukraine and Russia have provided conflicting accounts of what happened in Thursday’s incident in the Black Sea.

Moscow has denied the Ukrainian version of events – that the Moskva sank after being hit by Ukrainian missiles – but admitted the ship had sunk. Russia has insisted the reason for the sinking was a fire, but the United States confirmed Ukraine’s account on Friday, with a senior defense official saying the United States believed two Ukrainian Neptune missiles had hit the Russian warship.

Carl Schuster, a retired U.S. Navy captain and former director of operations for the U.S. Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center, told CNN on Monday his assessment was that the missiles penetrated below the ship’s deck and detonated.

“Assuming the photo is not somehow faked or photo-shopped, it appears the missile(s) struck forward, which is not unexpected,” he said. -he declares. “Anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs) tend to target the center of the radar return, which is usually the forward portion of the superstructure.”

HI Sutton, an independent defense analyst and author, told CNN that the damage shown in the photos “does not rule out a missile strike or strikes, and that remains the probable cause.”

“Possible puncture marks on the side of the hull are visible below where the fire is. But these would require further examination to confirm if they were caused by missiles or if it was it’s just fire damage,” he said.

The Moskva was armed with a range of anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles as well as torpedoes, naval guns and missile defense systems, meaning it would have had large amounts of explosives on board.

The Russian military has released no information on the casualties aboard the Moskva.

The Russian Defense Ministry released a video on Saturday showing what was described as officers and sailors from the sunken warship standing in formation two rows deep. The number of sailors in training was unclear. It is not known how many crew members were on board or how many survived.

Sutton says the footage shows all the life rafts have been deployed, “All the aft life raft containers have been jettisoned, although one remains on the aft deck. This suggests the crew have already given up the ship at this point,” he said. .

A large Russian salvage tug can be seen spraying the warship with water from the other side.

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The Kremlin said on Monday it had seen the Moskva photos, but could not verify them. “Yes, we actually saw the footage, but we cannot say how authentic and true it is,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

A senior US defense official who said he also saw the photos and video of the burning ship told CNN on Monday that the United States “cannot independently verify these images.”

“But the footage itself is consistent with what we had assessed to be the damage to the vessel,” the official said.

The photographers of the images and video are unknown, but they were taken from a ship close to the stricken warship. In the short video taken from the same vantage point, an unseen person’s voice can be heard shouting in Russian: “F**k (inaudible) what you did!”

The Moskva was one of Russia’s most visible assets in the Ukrainian war and its loss could impact Russian troop morale.

Tellingly, the Russian government has failed to recognize the victims of the sinking of the ship, a marked contrast to the very public debate over the Kursk submarine disaster, which claimed the lives of 118 sailors in 2000.

Analysts say the loss of the warship would have hurt the hearts of the Russian Navy as well as national pride, comparable to the US Navy’s loss of a battleship in World War II or an aircraft carrier today. today.

“Only the loss of a ballistic missile submarine or the Kutznetsov (the only Russian aircraft carrier) would inflict a more serious blow to Russian morale and the reputation of the navy with the Russian public,” Schuster said.


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