Ukraine sank Russia's cruiser Moskva with new missile, Pentagon says
Ukrainian forces sank the Russian warship Moskva with at least 1 Neptune missile, the US confirmed Friday.
Both Ukraine and Russia on Thursday said the ship was damaged after ammunition detonated onboard.
The attack is a significant blow to Russian morale amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.
The US on Friday confirmed that Ukrainian forces sank the Russian warship Moskva with at least one Neptune missile on Thursday, according to media reports.
The confirmation from a US defense official comes after both Russia and Ukraine said Thursday that the ship was damaged after ammunition detonated on board, but the two countries offered different explanations for what went wrong.
Russian officials claimed that the ammunition exploded due to a fire on board and said the crew had been evacuated.
Ukrainian officials, however, said its border guards had struck the vessel with Neptune anti-ship missiles, causing "serious damage" to the vessel.
The Pentagon's assessment was based on recent intelligence and released on Friday. It aligns with Ukraine's version of events. The unnamed defense official told media outlets that there were likely casualties.
According to The Washington Post, the Pentagon observed some Russian sailors evacuating the burning ship in lifeboats. The ship later sunk in the Black Sea south of Odesa as it was being towed to Crimea for repairs, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The attack is a significant blow to Russian morale amid the ongoing war in Ukraine. The warship was a key factor in Russia's naval strategy in the Black Sea and had a crew of about 500 sailors, The Journal reported. The Pentagon official told The Post that Russia will not be able to replace the loss.
Russian ships have been firing at Ukrainian cities from the Black Sea since Russian forces first invaded in late February. Russia has two other similar ships, the defense official told The Post, but neither is based in the Black Sea. Russian warships will be unable to shell Ukraine-held areas or participate in any amphibious assault near Odessa without risking being struck by more Ukrainian Neptune missiles.
The Moskva made headlines in February after an apparent audio exchange between the vessel and Ukrainian island border guards on Zmiinyi (Snake) Island went viral. When Russian troops told the fleet to surrender, the Ukrainian guards could be heard saying: "Go fuck yourselves."
Following the reported sinking on Thursday, Ukrainian officials began trolling the downed Moskva, referring to it as part of Russia's "submarine fleet," and a "worthy diving site."
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