On Thursday, the Moskva, Russia’s Black Sea flagship, sank after an explosion, raising fears that the ship may have harbored nuclear warheads, a so-called “broken-arrow” incident. Ukraine claimed it had struck the ship with two Neptune cruise missiles fired by a coastal battery; Russia claims an ammunition fire contributed to the sinking.
“Mykhailo Samus, director of a Lviv-based military think-tank; Andriy Klymenko, editor of Black Sea News; and Ukrainian newspaper Defence Express all warned today that the Moskva was designed to carry warheads which could be fitting into the nose of its supersonic P-1000 missiles – designed to take out American aircraft carriers,” The Daily Mail reported.
Samus surmised, “On board the Moskva could be nuclear warheads – two units.” Klymenko echoed, “Where are these warheads? Where were they when the ammunition exploded?”
Defence Express claimed it had “interviewed experts, including designers and naval officers, who unanimously and independently gave the following answer – there is a real possibility that the affected flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet could have had nuclear munitions on board,” adding, “Are nuclear munitions always on board, or are they loaded only by special order?”
On Friday, Russia’s defense ministry warned Moscow would heighten its missile attacks on Kyiv in retaliation for alleged Ukrainian “terrorist attacks” or “sabotage” on Russian territory. Ukraine’s security services fired back by publishing audio of an alleged intercepted phone call in which a Russian serviceman admitted the attacks were carried out by Russian forces, CBS News reported.
The Moskva boasted a crew of 510, but only 58 have reportedly been accounted for as they were rescued by a Turkish ship. Russia says the entire crew was evacuated.
The Moskva is the same ship that was told by Ukrainian troops on Snake Island to “go f*** yourself” when their surrender was demanded by the Russian ship.
On Thursday night, one reported Western official told The Daily Mail, “The incident represents another enormous loss in terms of Russian credibility. They’ve been shown again to be vulnerable to attack. This is a question of competence. This is supposed to be a military which has modernized itself over the last decade. The Ukrainians have used their imagination and proved so resourceful. They are able to act on the fly to have an effect on Russian forces.”
Another official dismissed Russia’s explanation for the sinking of its Black Sea flagship, countering, “I can’t definitively tell you exactly what happened. But I am not aware previously of a fire on board a capital warship, which would lead to the ammunition exploding.”