Ship boat

Major Black Sea Fleet ship damaged in explosion after Ukraine claims strike

The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed on Wednesday that its Moskva missile cruiser was badly damaged in a fire, hours after Ukrainian forces claimed to have rammed the ship in the Black Sea.

Why is this important: The Moskva is the most essential ship in Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, with cruise missiles with a range of at least 440 miles, according to Reuters.

  • The Russian Navy’s actions in the Black Sea, from where it launched missiles into Ukraine, are seen as a key part of the army’s battle plans to seize the beleaguered port city of Mariupol.

Driving the news: Odessa Governor Maksym Marchenko claimed in a Telegram article hours earlier that Ukrainian missiles “guarding the Black Sea caused very serious damage to the Russian ship”.

What they say : The Russian Defense Ministry said in a brief statement that “ammunition exploded following a fire on the guided-missile cruiser Moskva”.

  • The ministry told state media that the ship’s crew had been evacuated following the blast.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his overnight address on Wednesday that “Russian troops are intensifying their activities in the eastern and southern directions,” according to a transcript released in English.

Rollback: The Moskva was the warship that allegedly told Ukrainian border guards to surrender Snake Island, off Ukraine’s Black Sea coast.

  • An audio message came out of sailors telling Russian forces to “fuck you” in response, which Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said was genuine.
  • It was initially feared that the 10 sailors had been killed, but they were later released as part of a prisoner swap with Russia.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with further comments from the Russian Defense Ministry, remarks from Zelensky, and more in-depth context.