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Ukraine Strikes Flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet

The ship carries 16 missiles, according to a military analyst, and its removal from combat would greatly reduce Russia's firepower in the Black Sea

KYIV: Ukraine claimed on Thursday its forces have sunk the flagship of Russia's Black Sea fleet in a Neptune missile attack, but Moscow said the vessel was merely damaged.

The ship carries 16 missiles, according to a military analyst, and its removal from combat would greatly reduce Russia's firepower in the Black Sea.

Regardless of the extent of the damage, any attack would represent a major blow to Russian prestige seven weeks into a war that is already widely seen as a historic blunder.

Kyiv says it hit the ‘Moskva’ cruiser with missiles after bungling Russian admirals let it sail near the Ukrainian coast around Black Sea.

Ukraine reportedly used Turkish-made drones to distract the ship's missile defences, before firing two Neptune missiles, which ‘sneaked through.’ They struck the ship on the port side, the sources claimed, causing it to partially roll over.

Hundreds are thought to have died in the blasts and fire on board, western media reports said. However, Russia said a fire on board the Moskva, which would normally have 500 sailors on board, forced the entire crew to evacuate. It made no mention of casualties.

Russian sources later said the fire had been contained and that the ship would be towed to port with its guided missile launchers intact.

It was not immediately possible to reconcile the vastly different accounts, and cloud cover made it impossible to locate the ship or determine its condition based on satellite photos.

The news of the flagship's damage overshadowed Russian claims of advances in the southern port city of Mariupol, where they have been battling the Ukrainians since the early days of the invasion in some of the heaviest fighting of the war — at a horrific cost to civilians.

The news of damage to the ship came hours after some of Ukraine's allies sought to rally new support for the embattled country. Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden, who called Russia's actions in Ukraine “genocide” this week, approved $800 million in new military assistance to Kyiv. He said weapons from the West have sustained Ukraine's fight so far and “we cannot rest now.”

For Russians, it is one of the largest ships lost in combat since the end of the Second World War.

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