London: Images of what is claimed to be final moments before one of the Russian navy’s most prominent warships sunk have been posted on a respected open-source intelligence account on Twitter, adding to the mystery of how this Soviet-era ship met its demise.
The unverified picture shows a Slava class cruiser with black smoke billowing from its hull and it tilted heavily to its port side. The ship in the picture also appears to be missing life rafts with it likely they had been already deployed to evacuate the crew.
Images of stricken Russian ship Moskva have emerged.Credit:@Osinttechnical
Analyst H.I. Sutton wrote that he was unsure of the photo’s original source, “but they are clearly taken from a ship which went to the cruiser’s aid”.
He cites a second open-source analyst Yörük Işık who concluded that some of the photos were taken from a rescue tug boat, which is part of the Black Sea Fleet’s 145th Rescue Ship Squadron, 1st Group.
Ukraine says it hit the Moskva last week off Odesa with land-based anti-ship missiles while Russia says a fire onboard caused ammunition to detonate and the ship later sank in bad weather while being towed.
The warship, named for the Russian capital, was 110 to 120 kilometres south of the Ukrainian port when the fire ignited and the vessel was still battling flames hours later while heading east.
The loss of the ship is a major military setback and a devastating symbolic defeat for Moscow as its troops regroup for a renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine after retreating from much of the north, including the capital.
The ship, which was made in Ukraine during the time of the Soviet Union, could typically carry 16 long-range cruise missiles. Its removal from combat greatly reduces Russia’s firepower in the Black Sea.
It first gained notoriety after it bore down on Snake Island, south of Odesa, in February, as Russia launched its invasion. The warship issued a demand to Ukrainian border guards to surrender.
In phrase that has become emblematic of Ukrainian defiance, one replied: “Russian military ship, go f*** yourself.”
Moscow said last week that all the Moskva’s 500 crew members were evacuated from the ship, but has not said if there were casualties. Ukraine has claimed that First Rank Captain Anton Kupri was killed during the blast.
Three days after the incident Russia has released a video showing Admiral Nicolai Yevmenov addressing about 100 officers and sailors, standing to attention in dress uniform.
It is not clear when the silent footage was filmed, but one of the officers resembles Captain Kupri.
The defence ministry quoted Yevmenov as saying that the crew were in Sevastopol, the Moskva’s home port, and that officers and midshipmen from the cruiser would remain in service.
But The Times of London reported that a woman on Russian social media appeared to confirm the death of her husband, midshipman Ivan Vakhrushev, 41, on the Moskva. A picture of a man in uniform was captioned: “Our hero! He died fulfilling his duty. He fought to his last breath to save the ship.”
The woman also said that 27 crew members were missing. The claims could not be independently confirmed and the account was later made private.
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