Russia’s Black Sea flagship, the Moskva cruiser, was badly damaged on Wednesday night, with the entire crew reportedly being evacuated.
Conflicting claims from both sides have meant that it is unclear whether the flagship has sunk.
Ukrainian Governor of Odesa, Maksym Marchenko, are claiming the Moskva cruiser was hit by Neptune missiles on Telegram, which would be a big symbolic win for the country. According to Russian-state media and the Ministry of Defence, a fire led to ammunition on board blowing it up.
Given the number of verifiably false claims from the Russian side, the MoD may be covering up a significant setback. The explosion marks another blow for the Russian army in a series of military shortcomings, including heavy losses, since its invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.
The ship became notorious for its attack on Ukrainian Snake Island at the start of the invasion. Instead of surrendering, Ukrainian soldiers told the vessel to go “Go f**k yourself”, an act of defiance that has now been immortalised on Ukrainian postage stamps.
Odesa’s Governor said that the ship “went exactly where it was sent by our border guards on Snake Island!” on Telegram.
Ukrainian Presidential Advisor Oleksiy Arestovych alluded to the attack on the Moskva ship. “It burns strongly. Right now. And with this stormy sea, it is unknown whether they will be able to receive help,” he said on YouTube.