The Russian cruiser Moskva, flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, has been badly damaged as Moscow is set to take control of the strategic port of Mariupol. But Russians and Ukrainians are waging a communication battle over the reason for this damage. For the first, it is the accidental explosion of ammunition, for the second, it is missiles which are at the origin.
Russia has suffered one of its biggest material setbacks since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, the cruiser Moskva, flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, having been “severely damaged” by an explosion of munitions according to Moscow , and by missile strikes according to Ukrainian officials. As the Russian military is poised to take control of the strategic port of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov and expand its offensive into southern and eastern Ukraine, the guided-missile cruiser Moskva was “severely damaged”, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, quoted by state agencies Ria Novosti and Tass.
“Due to a fire, ammunition exploded on board”, and the crew was fully evacuated, the ministry said, adding that an investigation was underway to determine the origin of this fire. Local Ukrainian authorities said the Moskva, a 186-meter building, had been hit by missiles. “Neptune missiles protecting the Black Sea have caused significant damage to this Russian ship,” said Ukrainian governor of the Odessa region (south), Maxime Marchenko.
A spokesman for the military administration of Odessa, Sergey Bratchouk, indicated on Telegram that “according to available data”, Ukrainian missiles were “at the origin of the serious damage” suffered by the ship. The Moskva was commissioned from the time of the Soviet Union in 1983 and participated in the Russian intervention in Syria from 2015. In the early days of the invasion of Ukraine, it took part in a attack on Serpents’ Island, near the Romanian border, during which 19 Ukrainian sailors were captured to be later exchanged for Russian prisoners.
Massive military aid
In Washington, President Joe Biden has promised his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky massive new military aid of $800 million, including heavy equipment that the United States has so far been reluctant to deliver to kyiv for fear of to further aggravate their tensions with Moscow and to be considered parties to the war. And this as Russia threatened to strike command centers in kyiv, accusing Ukraine of attacks on its territory.
“We are seeing sabotage attempts and strikes by Ukrainian forces on targets on the territory of the Russian Federation,” said Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry. “If such events continue, strikes will be carried out by the Russian military on decision-making centers, including in kyiv, which the Russian military has refrained from doing so far,” he said. he warned.
Russian forces withdrew from the kyiv region at the end of March. For a month, they tried to encircle the capital, in vain, and carried out strikes there. Mr. Konashenkov also announced on Wednesday that the Mariupol commercial port area had been completely conquered. Shortly before, Moscow had announced the surrender of more than a thousand Ukrainian soldiers in this strategic port city that its forces have been besieging and bombarding for more than 40 days.