Moskva: What happened to the Russian warship involved in the attack on Snake Island

Russia’s cruiser Moskva, the flagship of its Black Sea Fleet, was badly damaged – prompting an evacuation of its crew after Ukrainian officials said it was hit by a missile strike.

Moscow acknowledged the incident but only said ammunition on board exploded after a fire and the cause was being investigated.

“As a result of a fire on the missile cruiser Moskva, ammunition exploded. The ship was badly damaged,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement. “The crew was completely evacuated.”

A Ukrainian official said earlier that the Moskva was hit by two Neptune anti-ship missiles, but offered no evidence.

What is the Moskva?

The Moskva, commissioned in 1982, was armed with 16 “Vulkan” anti-ship cruise missiles with a range of at least 700 km. She was originally named “Glory” and is one of three Slava-class missile cruisers. Its home port is Sevastopol on the illegally annexed Crimean peninsula.

In April 2021, the Interfax news agency quoted a retired Russian admiral as saying the 12,500-ton ship, which usually has a crew of around 500, was “the most serious ship in the Black Sea”. .

The Russian Navy guided missile cruiser Moskva returns to a port after tracking NATO warships in the Black Sea, in the port of Sevastopol, Crimea, November 16, 2021

(Reuters)

The warship is said to carry 64 S-300F Rif air defense missiles, making it an important element of Russian air defense over southern Ukraine.

“These long-range weapons allow her to cover most of the northern Black Sea from her patrol areas,” Naval News reported.

HI Sutton, a defense analyst, said this ship’s “close-in defences”, which should have protected it from a missile strike, “were dated”.

He added that the ship “had operated in relatively predictable patterns in the northern Black Sea”, but that a large white number had recently been removed from its side to make it harder to identify.

What happened to Snake Island?

At the start of the war in February, a group of Ukrainian soldiers stationed on Snake Island, known as Zmiyyny, in the Black Sea, refused to surrender, telling an approaching Russian warship – the Moskva – from “fuck you”. ”.

Although Ukrainian officials initially said all 13 guards died in the ensuing Russian attack, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky later said some of them survived.

Moskva shown in satellite images provided by Maxar in the Crimean port earlier this month

(AP)

They were captured after a Russian military ship arrived on the island, told guards to lay down their weapons and warned they would be ‘bombed’, according to audio clips picked up by local media and shared online .

Two Ukrainian guards were then heard saying “should I tell them to fuck off?” before answering: “Russian warship, fuck you”.

Commenting on reports of the missile attack on the Moskva, Maksym Marchenko, governor of the region around the Black Sea port of Odessa, said: “It was confirmed that the missile cruiser Moskva went today right where the Snake Island border guards said he was going.”

What does this mean for the Russian Navy?

The blast is the latest in a series of significant military setbacks for Russia since launching its stalled invasion on February 24.

Last month, Ukraine said it had destroyed a large Russian landing support ship, the Orsk, on the smaller Sea of ​​Azov northeast of the Black Sea.

Russian Navy ships near the Black Sea port of Sevastopol shortly before the launch of the invasion

(Reuters)

But Russia still has a large fleet of cruisers, frigates, missile corvettes and amphibious landing ships operating off southern Ukraine.

A report last month suggested there were more than 30 Russian ships active in the Black Sea region, with some deployed from their usual homes in the Arctic and Baltic regions.

Mr Sutton – the defense analyst – said last month that Russia had amassed a naval force in the Black Sea “much larger than the traditional Black Sea Fleet”, which was “focused on war capabilities amphibious, i.e. the landing of troops and supplies”.

He added, “Like analysts counting trucks and hospitals on land before the invasion, naval analysts monitor auxiliaries. These lesser known ships are often overlooked but are important.

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