Washington (Times Of Ocean)- Ukraine says it has damaged a Russian Black Sea fleet flagship Moskva while the US announces an $800-million military aid package for Kyiv as the conflict enters its 50th day.
Two Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missiles struck the Russian cruiser Moskva on Wednesday, a top U.S. defense official said Friday, contradicting Russian claims that the flagship of the Black Sea fleet sank due to an accidental explosion.
Russian naval strength in the Black Sea has been dealt a “big blow” by the loss of the warship Moskva, the Pentagon has said.
Pentagon says “the Russian warship was engulfed in an inferno.” “This is going to have an effect on their capabilities.”
“This is a big blow to the Black Sea fleet, this is… a key part of their efforts to execute some sort of naval dominance in the Black Sea,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told US broadcaster CNN.
In a statement, Ukrainian military officials also revealed they attacked the Moskva with Ukrainian-made Neptune missiles – a weapon designed in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, and the increasing threat to Ukraine in the Black Sea.
As a symbol of Russia’s military power, the 510-crew missile cruiser led its battle against Ukraine in the Mediterranean.
In the first day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, on 24 February, the Moskva was remembered for radioing an expletive-laden rejection message to a small garrison of Ukrainian border troops defending Snake Island in the Black Sea.
Moskva was originally built in the Soviet Union and entered service in the early 1980s. In fact, the vessel was laid down in the city of Mykolaiv, which has been heavily bombed by Russia in recent days.
During the Syria conflict, the guided missile cruiser provided protection to Russian forces in Syria.
There were 16 Vulkan missiles on board, as well as an array of mine-torpedo and anti-submarine weapons.
Upon confirmation of the Ukrainian attack, the 12,490-tonne Moskva would be the largest warship to be sunk by enemy action since World War Two.
This is the second major vessel lost by Russia since its invasion began. The Saratov landing ship also was destroyed by a Ukrainian attack in the Berdyansk harbor, a Sea of Azov Ukrainian port that was seized by Russia.