Russia has said its warship “remains afloat” after a fire detonated ammunition on board, provoking conflicting reports from Russian and Ukrainian authorities.
The Moskva guided-missile cruiser’s “main missile armament was not damaged,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement Thursday, adding that “there is no open fire. Explosion of ammunition has been stopped.”
The ministry said “the source of the ignition on the cruiser Moskva has been localized,” and the cause of the fire was still being established on the flagship of its Black Sea fleet.
On Wednesday, Ukraine’s regional administrator from Odesa state, Maxim Marchenko, claimed in a Telegram post that Ukrainian forces hit the ship with “Neptune” missiles, causing serious damage to it.
Ukraine’s Operational Command South also said in a statement Thursday that the Moskva was hit by Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missiles.
“In the Black Sea operational zone, Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles hit the cruiser Moskva, the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet — it received significant damage,” the statement said. “A fire broke out. Other units of the ship’s group tried to help, but a storm and a powerful explosion of ammunition overturned the cruiser and it began to sink.”
However, the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed Wednesday that the warship Moskva was evacuated after a fire onboard detonated ammunition, seriously damaging the vessel, according to Russian state media.
Oleksiy Arestovych, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said “we can’t figure out what happened,” suggesting confusion over what occurred.
In Thursday’s statement, the Russian ministry said the “crew of the cruiser was evacuated to ships of the Black Sea Fleet in the area,” and measures were being take to tow the cruiser to port.
The Russian statement gave no information about casualties.
Due to large storms over the Black Sea obscuring satellite imagery and sensory satellite data, CNN has not been able to visually confirm the ship has been hit.
But analysts who spoke to CNN noted that a fire on board such a ship can lead to a catastrophic explosion that could sink it, and said it strikes hard at the heart of the Russian navy as well as national pride — comparable to the US Navy losing a battleship during World War II or an aircraft carrier today.
According to the Defense Ministry, the Moskva is a missile cruiser that was built and commissioned in 1982.
CNN’s Olga Voitovych in Lviv contributed reporting to this post.