Russia-Ukraine War: How Significant is the Drowning of the Moscow Warship?

The Russian warship “Moscow” sank in the Black Sea, after it was apparently attacked by missiles that caused a fire on board. The ship, weighing 12,500 tons, was armed with a number of anti-ship and surface-to-air missiles, and was the only one of its kind in the Black Sea. Alexander Karpyuk, a volunteer with the Ukrainian forces who has been working alongside the Marines and reporting from the front since 2014, reported that the “Moscow” patrol, the Russian Navy’s flagship in the Black Sea, is on fire after being hit by two Neptune cruise missiles.

According to the Forbes Ukrainian website, its sinking is Russia’s most costly military loss in the war with Ukraine. The Institute for the Study of War (IOW) says it has failed to verify that Ukraine sank the warship, but the loss of Moscow – for whatever reason – was a “great propaganda victory for Ukraine.” In contrast, it could undermine Russian morale, the institute said. However, in military terms, the loss may not be as significant.

The IOW says that Moscow was probably mainly used to carry out cruise missile attacks against logistics centers and airports in Ukraine. “These attacks have been effective but limited in number compared to airstrikes and surface-to-surface missiles throughout the invasion, and the loss of Moscow is unlikely to be a decisive blow,” the IOW said. Russian military experts also downplay the military significance of the drowning.

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“The ship is really very old. In fact, there have been plans to take it out of operational service for five years now,” Russian military commentator Alexander Khremchikin told Reuters. “It has more value than a combat formation status, and in general, it had nothing to do with the current operation. It will not affect the course of the fighting.”

Moscow was among a group of ships designed by the Soviet Union in the late 1970s to deal with groups carrying American aircraft and provide air defense to Soviet vessels operating in the ocean. The warship was launched at a shipyard in the Mykolaiv region of Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union) in July 1979. The ship began its operational journey in late December 1982, was 186 meters (610 feet) long and was designed to carry a crew of 476 soldiers with 62 additional officers.

Moscow ship (Photo: REUTERS / HO / Alan Burns-NATO)

It was the flagship of the Soviet Navy in the Black Sea and was equipped with deck guns, torpedoes and mortars, as well as nuclear weapons during the Cold War. She also had a helicopter deck. In 2008, during Russia’s war with Georgia, “Moscow” was involved in operations in the Black Sea. The Georgian government said the ship also participated in the attack on the country.

It also briefly participated during the siege of the Ukrainian navy in March 2014 as part of the Crimean annexation and the following year it provided air defense to the Russian forces operating in Syria. On February 24, the ship participated in the conquest of Snake Island.


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