Russia’s flagship Black Sea vessel was hit by alleged Ukrainian missiles causing multiple onboard explosions leaving the Moskva crippled and exposed. Upon towing the guided-missile cruiser back to base, the once pride of the Russian fleet took on water and sunk to the bottom of the Black Sea.
In a clear message of glee and directly mocking Putin, Ukraine’s defence minister took to Twitter looking forward to happier times ahead in the waters of the sea.
Oleksii Reznikov said: “A ‘flagship’ Russian warship is a worthy diving site.
“We have one more diving spot in the Black Sea now.
“Will definitely visit the wreck after our victory in the war.
“I already have 300 scuba dives.”
The loss of the Moskva is one of the heaviest defeats for Putin since the invasion of Ukraine began 50 days ago.
Reports of over 15,000 Russian soldiers already losing their lives have also taken an impact on Putin’s plans for a so-called “special operation.”
Although messages emanating from the Kremlin suggest the operation has so far been a success, many see Russia’s heavy losses, as well as “tactical withdrawal” from Northern Ukraine as a sign of weakness.
With hundreds of tanks, helicopters and fighter jets downed, military analysts now predict Russian forces will regroup and attack from the East and the South of Ukraine via the Black Sea.
However, the loss of the Moskva could well be seen as a sign of things to come for Putin.
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A statement from the Russian Ministry of Defence said: “While being towed towards the destined port, the vessel lost its balance due to damage sustained in the hull as fire broke out after ammunition exploded.
“Given the choppy seas, the vessel sank.”
The US called the sinking of the ship a “big blow” to Putin.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said: “It’s certainly plausible and possible Ukrain did in fact hit this with a Neptune missile or maybe more.”
Speaking of the impact the sinking of the ship will have on Russian advances, Mykola Bielieskov said: “It’s more about psychological damage than material damage.”
When talking to the BBC, Mr Bielieskov added: “It won’t remove Russia’s naval blockade on Ukraine completely.
“But it’s a powerful symbol that we can employ sophisticated weaponry effectively.”
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Adding to the assessment, Admiral Lord West said: “This has a huge impact.”
“Putin loves the navy.
“When he came into power, the first bit of the old Soviet forces that he put effort into was the navy.
“He’s always had a soft spot for it.”
With Putin seeing several key defeats and already being accused of war crimes and genocide, fears are now mounting the President will become ever more desperate to save Russian military pride.
Speaking from the US, CIA Director William Burns warned of a potential escalation in the conflict.
He said: “Given the potential desperation of President Putin and the Russian leadership … none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons.”