Russia's guided missile cruiser Moskva has sunk in the Black Sea while it was being towed due to damage, with Kiev saying the flagship was attacked in a military operation and Moscow pointing to an explosion caused by fire on board.
Moskva, the flagship of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, was reportedly being towed to a designation port when it sank due to stormy seas, following an explosion on board.
Russian defense ministry officials said Moskva sustained damages following the detonation of ammunition caused by fire on board.
Moskva was featured in a fake news story in late February, when media falsely reported 13 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed after telling the warship to 'go f*** yourself'
"During the towing of the Moskva cruiser to the designation port, the ship lost stability due to hull damage, sustained during the detonation of ammunition because of a fire. Amid the heavy storm, the ship sank," a ministry statement said.
But Kiev says a missile attack launched by Ukraine's Operational Command South hit the Soviet-era ship, Kremlin’s symbol of power since the early 1980’s.
"In the Black Sea operational zone, Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles hit the cruiser Moskva, the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet -- it received significant damage," a statement said.
Both Moscow and Kiev appeared to converge on the assessment that a fire had caused the incident, with Ukraine claiming the blaze started by the attack.
The Russian defense ministry said the crew had been evacuated to nearby Black Sea Fleet ships, adding that the cause of the incident was being determined.
Moskva was featured in a fake news story in the early stages of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, when media said 13 Ukrainian soldiers were reportedly killed on Snake Island after telling the Russian warship to “go fuck yourself.”
But a Ukrainian border guard had quickly disputed the deaths and video footage emerged later showing all 82 soldiers on the island -including the 13 in question- receiving food before being transferred to Crimea where they would travel back to their families.