Why was the Moskva cruiser key to Russia in its war against Ukraine? – The financial

The flagship of the Russian fleet in the Black Seaa guided-missile cruiser that became a major target of Ukrainian defense in the early days of the war, sank on Thursday after sustaining severe damage, in what is the most recent setback for Moscow in its invasion of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian authorities assured that their troops hit the boat with missiles, while Russia admitted that there was a fire on board the Moskva, but did not recognize that it was caused by an attack. Officials from the United States and other nations could not confirm the cause of the fire.

The loss of the ship, named in honor of the Russian capital, it is a devastating symbolic defeat for Moscow as its troops regroup for a renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine after withdrawing from much of the north, including the capital.

The Russian Ministry of Defense He said the ship sank in a storm while being towed to port. Russia had previously noted that flames on the vessel, which would typically have 500 sailors on board, forced the entire crew to evacuate. She later reported that the flames had been contained, that the ship would be towed to port and that her missile launchers remained intact.

The ship could carry up to 16 long-range cruise missiles, and its withdrawal from combat greatly reduces Russia’s offensive capability in the Black Sea. The collapse is a heavy blow to Russia’s prestige in a war already seen by some as a historic failure. Entering its eighth week, the Russian invasion has stalled due to resistance from Ukrainian fighters, bolstered with weapons and other aid from Western nations.

During the first days of the war, the Moskva would have been the ship that requested the surrender of the Ukrainian soldiers stationed in the Snake Island, in the Black Sea. In a recording that has gone viral, the soldiers respond: “Russian ship, go to hell,” using swear words.

The AP was unable to independently verify the incident, but Ukraine and its supporters consider it a landmark moment of resistance. The country recently introduced a postage stamp commemorating the episode.

News of the damage to the flagship overshadowed Russia’s announcements of advances in the port city of Mariupol, where they have been clashing with Ukrainian forces since the first days of the invasion, at a terrifying cost in civilian lives.

The spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Defense, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Wednesday that 1,026 Ukrainian soldiers had surrendered at a steel mill in the city. But Vadym Denysenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, rejected the claim, telling Current Time TV that “the battle for the port continues.”

The number of elements still defending Mariupol is unknown.

Russian state television broadcast images, allegedly from Mariupol, showing dozens of men in camouflage uniforms walking with their hands up or carrying colleagues on stretchers. A man held a white flag.

The capture of Mariupol it is critical for Russia because it would allow its troops in the south, which entered through the Crimean Peninsula it annexed in 2014, to connect with soldiers in eastern Donbass, the industrial heartland of Ukraine and the target of the next offensive.

The Russian military continues to move helicopters and other equipment to that end, according to a senior US defense official, and may add more ground combat units “in the coming days.” But it is still unknown when Russia might launch a larger-scale offensive in Donbas.

Pro-Russian separatists have clashed with Ukrainian forces in Donbas since 2014, the same year Russia annexed Crimea. Moscow has already recognized the independence of the rebel regions in Donbas.

The loss of moskva it could delay any new large-scale offensive.

Maksym Marchenkogovernor of the Odessa region, across the Black Sea and northwest of Sevastopol, said the Ukrainians hit the ship with two Neptune missiles, causing “severe damage.”

Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, said the ship subsequently sank, describing it as an event of “colossal importance”.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the ammunition on board the ship exploded due to the fire, for which it did not give a cause. He assured that the “main missile weapons” were not damaged. In addition to cruise missiles, the ship has anti-aircraft systems and other weapons.

The Neptune is an anti-ship missile that Ukraine recently developed and is based on a Soviet design. The launchers are located in trucks parked near the coast, and according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the missiles can hit targets up to 280 kilometers (175 miles) away. That would place the Moskva within rangebased on where the fire started.

The United States was unable to confirm Ukrainian claims of hits to the ship, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said. However, he said it was “a huge blow to Russia.”

“They have to choose one of two stories: One is simple incompetence, and the other is that they were attacked, neither of which exactly come out well,” Sullivan told the Economic Club of Washington.