Russia contains fire on Moskva warship as Ukraine claims missile strike

Click to play video: 'Mariupol on the brink of falling to Russia as Zelenskyy warns of “endless bloodbath”'
Mariupol on the brink of falling to Russia as Zelenskyy warns of “endless bloodbath”
WARNING: This video contains disturbing content. Viewer discretion is advised. - Mariupol on brink of Russia's control as Zelenskyy warns of 'endless bloodbath' – Apr 13, 2022

Russia said the crew of its Moskva warship were evacuated on Thursday after an explosion of ammunition aboard that Ukraine said was caused by a missile strike, and a U.S. defence official said the stricken vessel was still trying to put out a fire.

The warship, a Soviet-era missile cruiser, is still believed afloat and the United States is under the assumption that the cruiser is heading to Sevastopol, the senior U.S. official said.

“Our assessment is that she still appears to be battling a fire on board,” the official added.

Russia’s defence ministry said the fire on the vessel, its Black Sea fleet flagship, had been contained but left the ship badly damaged. It did not acknowledge the ship, which had more than 500 sailors aboard, had been attacked and said the cause of the fire was under investigation.

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Ukraine’s southern military command said it hit the warship with a Ukrainian-made Neptune anti-ship missile and that it had started to sink.

Reuters was unable to verify any of the various statements about the ship.

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows cruiser Moskva in port Sevastopol in Crimea on April 7. Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies via AP

The United States said it did not have enough information to determine whether the ship was hit by a missile.

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“We don’t have the capacity at this point to independently verify that but certainly, the way this unfolded, it’s a big blow to Russia,” said national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

The Moskva’s loss or disabling would be another hit to Russia’s stuttering campaign – on the 50th day of its war in Ukraine – as it readies for a new assault in the eastern Donbas region that is likely to define the conflict’s outcome.

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Russian forces have pulled back from some northern parts of Ukraine after suffering heavy losses and failing to take the capital Kyiv. Ukraine and its western allies say Moscow is redeploying for a new offensive.

“Russian forces are increasing their activities on the southern and eastern fronts, attempting to avenge their defeats,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a Wednesday night video address.

Russia’s navy has fired cruise missiles into Ukraine and its Black Sea activities are crucial to supporting land operations in the south of the country, where it is battling to seize full control of the port of Mariupol after weeks of bombardment.

Click to play video: 'Russia-Ukraine conflict: Snake Island soldiers who told Russian warship ‘Go f— yourself’ confirmed alive'
Russia-Ukraine conflict: Snake Island soldiers who told Russian warship ‘Go f— yourself’ confirmed alive

Russian news agencies said the Moskva, commissioned in 1983, was armed with 16 anti-ship Vulkan cruise missiles with a range of at least 700 kilometres.

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Kyiv says the Moskva featured in one of the landmark early exchanges of the war, when Ukrainian border guards on Snake Island, a small outcrop in the Black Sea, told the ship to “Go f- yourself” after it demanded they surrender.

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