Moskva mystery: Russia releases video 'showing crew for first time' since flagship sunk

17 April 2022, 13:00 | Updated: 17 April 2022, 15:08

Russia releases video they say shows surviving crew of the sunken ship Moskva.
Russia releases video they say shows surviving crew of the sunken ship Moskva. Picture: Alamy/Russian MoD

By Sophie Barnett

Russia has released a video it claims shows the surviving crew members of the warship Moskva - the first time any of the ship's sailors have been seen since it sunk in the Black Sea.

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Footage released by the Russian Ministry of Defence appeared to show the naval chief Admiral Nikolay Yevmenov, 60, addressing naval officers and seamen in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol.

The Moskva was the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, which sunk on Thursday in a huge blow to Russian morale.

Russia and Ukraine authorities have given very different explanations for what caused the ship to sink - with Ukraine claiming the ship was hit by a Neptune missile, while Russia says there was an accidental fire on board.

Russia said at the time that the crew had been taken to Sevastopol, a major port in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

This is the first time any evidence has been offered of the survival of any sailors.

However, the video is undated and it's not clear when the meeting took place.

Around 100 sailors can be seen in the video, with Adm Yevmenov and two other officers.

Russia has said all of the 500 crew were rescued after the blast late on Wednesday. Ukrainian officials has said some of those on board died but has provided no evidence for the claims.

A western official told reporters on Thursday that damage to the flagship - regardless of how it was caused - would be an "enormous loss" to the country's military credibility.

"I can't definitively tell you exactly what has happened... but I am not aware previously of a fire onboard a capital warship which has led to the ammunition magazine exploding as a consequence," they said.

"Were that to have been the case - were it just to have been an accident - it's a remarkably inept piece of control by the Russian military. And I find it difficult to believe that that would have been the case in this instance.

"So the claim by the Ukrainian forces, I think, is credible."

They added: "The loss of the Moskva is a significant loss, I think, a little bit in terms of capability, but in terms of credibility for Russian forces it's an enormous loss - regardless of how it's happened - whether it's as a consequence of ineptitude onboard or an attack by Ukrainian forces.

"Almost regardless of how it's happened, it's a massive blow for Russian credibility about what they're doing in their operation."

The Moskva, a 12,500 tonne Project 1164 Slava class guided missile cruiser, is the second major Russian ship known to have been severely damaged since the war began.

She was first launched in 1979 and replaced the Kynda-class cruiser Admiral Golovko as the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.