On Friday, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov hailed the sinking of Russia’s famous guided missile cruiser, the Moskva, as the latest “dive site” in the Black Sea.
Ukrainian officials reported – and a Pentagon source confirmed – that the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet sank on Thursday after at least two Ukrainian Neptune missiles struck it.
Russia acknowledged a fire on board but did not admit the ship had been hit. Kremlin officials said the Moskva sank in rough seas as it was being transported to a port after being evacuated.
The once mighty warship will now make a “worthy” dive site, joked Reznikov, who is an ocean diver.
“I will definitely visit the wreck after our victory in the war,” he added in a tweet that featured a photo of himself on a dive.
The loss of the Moskva is both a real and devastating symbolic loss for Russia.
It is also the one that is particularly important for Ukrainians. During the early days of the war, it was allegedly Moskva officers who ordered Ukrainian soldiers stationed on Snake Island in the Black Sea to surrender. Instead, they radioed, “Russian warship, fuck you.”
It was initially believed that all Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the clash. Some died, but others were captured by Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told reporters last month.
Those captured – including the soldier who actually delivered the message to the warship – were freed in a prisoner exchange, and all were honored in Ukraine as heroes.
After the confrontation, Ukraine quickly issued a new stamp highlighting the soldiers’ defiant response which featured an image of one of them overturning the warship.