Th flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet sank on Thursday after an explosion and fire that Ukraine said was caused by a missile strike.
Reuters reports that the guided-missile cruiser Moskva, sank while it was being towed to port in stormy weather, citing a statement from the Russian Ministry of Defense.
“During the towing of the cruiser Moskva to the port of destination, the ship lost its stability due to hull damage received during a fire from the detonation of ammunition. In the conditions of stormy seas, the ship sank,” the statement said.
It is still unclear what led to the warship sinking in the Black Sea.
According to CNN, Ukrainian officials said earlier on Thursday that the Moskva had begun to sink after it was hit 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.”
Russia claims a fire broke out on the warship, causing munitions aboard to explode, inflicting serious damage to the vessel, and forcing the 500 member crew to evacuate.
The United States said it did not have enough information to determine whether the Moskva was hit by a missile.
“We’re not in a position to officially confirm independently what exactly led to the ship’s now sinking,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday. “But we’re also not in any position to refute the Ukrainian side of this. It’s certainly plausible and possible that they did in fact hit this with a Neptune missile or maybe more.”