Ukraine Live Updates: Russia Appears Close to Capturing Mariupol

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The sinking of one of Russia’s most formidable warships, the Moskva, is a stunning blow to the country, whether the ship sank after an accidental fire, as the Russian Defense Ministry maintains, or after be hit by missiles, as Ukraine claims.

At over 600 feet long and weighing 12,500 tons, according to Russian news agencies, the Moskva was one of the largest ships in the Russian Navy and the flagship of its Black Sea fleet.

That body of water, whose coastline is shared with several other countries, including Ukraine, Georgia and Turkey, has been of strategic importance to Russia for centuries.

The Moskva was deployed to support Russian aircraft and troops in Syria in 2015, and in 2008 it patrolled the Georgian coast during the Russo-Georgian war.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the Moskva, armed with 16 Vulkan missile launchers with a strike range of more than 400 miles, according to Russian state media, and the rest of the Black Sea Fleet have fired missiles at Ukraine several times. times. The ships also cut off Ukraine’s access to the sea and the economic lifeline it provided.

Although military analysts said the loss of the Moskva was unlikely to alter the course of the war, it was an embarrassment for the Russian military, which has spent billions of dollars modernizing its weaponry.

The ship had the ability to cause “significant damage” in the Black Sea, said Gary Roughead, a retired admiral and former chief of US naval operations. He added that with Moskva gone, Russia has most likely lost a key communication and control platform.

Forbes Ukraine has estimated that the loss of the Moskva cost Russia $750 million and is Russia’s costliest military loss in the war to date.

The ship was also a symbol of national pride. Her name was “Gloria” when she was first commissioned for the Soviet Navy in the early 1980s. She was renamed after the Russian capital in 1996, according to Russian state media.

“Imagine the aircraft carrier USS George Washington going to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean,” James Stavridis, a retired US Navy admiral and former Supreme Allied Commander in NATO, said of the ship’s symbolism.

“It’s a significant blow to your prestige to lose something like that,” Admiral Roughead said, adding: “It calls into question the readiness of the fleet.”

The Moskva is the same ship, Ukrainian officials have said, that was famously and obscenely reprimanded by Ukrainian border guards on Snake Island in February.

The Russian Defense Ministry has said that all of the Moskva’s crew members, who usually number around 500, have been evacuated. The ship will now join an unknown number of other ships, some more than a millennium old, at the bottom of the Black Sea.

james shine contributed report.

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