In a massive blow to Vladimir Putin and his military, one of the Russian Navy’s most important warships has sunk in the Black Sea after Ukraine claimed it had successfully conducted a missile strike against the vessel.
The ship was being towed when it sank, Russian state news agency TASS reported Thursday, according to CNN.
“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, according to TASS.
Conflicting accounts have emerged about the incident.
Russia said a fire broke out on the guided-missile cruiser, causing munitions aboard to explode, inflicting serious damage to the vessel, and forcing the crew of the warship to be evacuated.
However, Ukraine’s Operational Command South claimed 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, CNN reported. “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.”
The sinking of the warship comes as the Russian military struggles against Ukrainian resistance 50 days into Vladimir Putin’s invasion of the neighboring nation.
Speaking with CNN host Jim Acosta, network international correspondent Matthew Chance broke down the symbolic victory that Ukraine achieve by sinking the Moskva.
“The fact that it is the flagship of the fleet in the Black Sea,” he said. “The fact that it is that main sort of naval power in the region. The fact that it’s been lost now and sunk. It’s a real humiliation for the Russians and a real victory for the Ukrainians.”
Watch the report below.