The war in Ukraine: 5 questions about the fire “Moskva”, the flagship of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea

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The cruiser “Moskva”, the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, was “severely damaged” by the explosion of its munitions, according to Moscow. For its part, Kyiv claims to have hit it with missile fire. But what is the strategic and symbolic significance of these demands?

What happened ?

This may be one of the biggest physical setbacks for the Russian military since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine. The cruiser Moskva, the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, was “severely damaged” on Thursday, April 14. A fire caused by an explosion of ammunition, according to Moscow, which refuses to point the finger at Kyiv. On the Ukrainian side, rocket fire from their camp was the cause of the destruction and fire, according to several officials.

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What is the strategic importance?

These facts come at a time when Russian forces want to take control of the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Sea of ​​Azov, and expand their offensive in southern and eastern Ukraine. The main objective of this invasion according to Vladimir Putin. Russia has threatened to strike the command centers in Kyiv, accusing Ukraine of launching attacks on its territory.

These Ukrainian offensive strikes could see the arrival of new equipment and $800 million worth of new aid from the United States. In a phone call on Wednesday with Volodymyr Zelensky, Joe Biden announced the dispatch of a large amount of equipment from US military stocks to Kyiv, including artillery, armor, radar, anti-tank missiles, drones, and unmanned coastal defense ships. This would confirm that the White House appears to have recently abandoned the distinction between the delivery of “defensive” equipment, which it allowed, and “offensive” equipment, which it, on the contrary, refused to provide to the Ukrainians.

What do the Ukrainians say?

The Ukrainian authorities claimed that “Moskva” was bombed by missiles. “Neptune missiles protecting the Black Sea caused serious damage to this Russian ship,” said the governor of the Odessa region, Maxim Marchenko. “According to the available data, the (Ukrainian) missiles were the cause of the ship’s ‘serious damage’,” Sergei Brachuk, a spokesman for the Odessa military administration, said on Telegram.

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For his part, the adviser to the Ukrainian President, Oleksich Aristovich, announced on YouTube that “a surprise has arrived at the command ship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.” “It is burning very badly. Now. With these raging seas, it is impossible to know when they will be able to receive assistance,” he said, stressing that “510 crew members” were on board. “We don’t understand what happened,” he added.

What do the Russians say?

At a time when the Russian army was in the process of taking control of the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Sea of ​​Azov, the Russian Ministry of Defense, citing state agencies RIA Novosti and TASS, confirmed that the missile and the cruiser “Moskva” were “seriously damaged”, not to mention the Ukrainian fire. “The source of the fire was contained and there were no flames. The explosions of ammunition stopped. The cruiser Moskva is still standing,” the ministry said.

The ministry had initially indicated that “due to a fire, ammunition on board the ship exploded” and the entire crew was evacuated, adding that an investigation is underway to determine the source of this fire.

Why is this ship an icon?

“Moskva” is a symbol of Russian naval power, the flagship in the Black Sea. The ship has been in service since the times of the Soviet Union in 1983 and has been involved in the Russian intervention in Syria since 2015. In the early days of the invasion of Ukraine, it took part in an attack on Snake Island, near the Romanian border, during which 19 Ukrainian sailors were captured to be later exchanged prisoners Russians.

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