Moscow: Russian missile cruiser Moskva, the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, sank while being towed into port amid stormy sea conditions, the Defence Ministry said.
According to the Russian military, the warship’s hull had been damaged by an ammunition explosion, itself caused by a fire on board, on Wednesday.
Ukrainian officials claimed their forces had struck the vessel with anti-ship missiles. The Pentagon said it could not confirm the claim. A US drone circled above the cruiser on Thursday, RT reported.
“While being towed to the port destination, due to hull damage caused by ammunition detonation sparked by fire, the cruiser Moskva lost stability. In the stormy sea conditions, the ship sank,” the Russian Defence Ministry said.
The Moskva was reportedly around 90 km south of Odessa on Wednesday when a fire broke out on board. This caused the unspecified ammunition stores to explode, damaging the hull, according to the Russian military.
The crew was evacuated by nearby Black Sea Fleet ships, and tugs were dispatched to tow the Moskva to Crimea for repairs.
As of Thursday morning, Moscow was saying that explosions on board had stopped and the fire had been extinguished, and that the cruiser was on its way to port for repairs. It was not mentioned again during the regular briefing on military operations in Ukraine later in the day.