Russia says flagship of its Black Sea fleet has sunk
Russia's defense ministry said Thursday that the Moskva cruiser, the flagship of its Black Sea fleet, sank while being towed in a storm due to damage incurred in a fire, according to Russian state media.
Why it matters: The loss of the Moskva is a devastating symbolic blow to Russia on the 50th day of its invasion of Ukraine. It's the largest military vessel to sink in decades.
The big picture: Ukraine claimed it struck the 610-foot Soviet-era vessel with cruise missiles on Wednesday.
- Russia's defense ministry claimed the fire on the cruiser started after the detonation of ammunition on board.
- A senior U.S. defense official said earlier Thursday that the Moskva had experienced "significant damage" and was heading east while continuing to battle a fire on the cruiser. The official could not confirm the cause of the explosion.
- It's unknown if there were any casualties. Russia's defense ministry said it evacuated the ship's approximately 500 crew members on Wednesday.
Between the lines: The Moskva was involved in one of the famous early exchanges of the war, when Ukrainian border guards defending Snake Island told the warship to "go f*ck yourself" in response to a call to surrender.