Source: Laura Widener

Russia’s Moskva flagship missile cruiser incurred heavy damage from an explosion and a “fire” on board late Wednesday and Ukrainian officials are saying they fired missiles at the Russian cruiser.

Odesa Regional Military Administration head Maksym Marchenko said on Telegram that Moskva was hit. “Neptune missiles guarding the Black Sea caused very serious damage to the Russian ship,” he said, according to a translation. Neptune missiles are anti-ship cruise missiles produced in Ukraine.

An unconfirmed video circulating social media claims to show a ship burning in the Black Sea. It’s unclear if the video actually shows the Mosvka as the footage could not be authenticated at this time.

The Russian defense ministry described the incident as a “fire” that broke out and exploded munitions on board, though it didn’t describe the source of the fire. The ship was evacuated and the incident is being investigated.

“A fire onboard the Mosvka missile cruiser caused a blast of the broadside munitions. The ship received serious damage. The crew was evacuated,” the ministry statement said, as reported by Russian state-run news agency TASS.

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Moskva is the flagship vessel of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. It has been in service since 1983 and carries Vulkan missile launchers.

Some reports have said Moskva was involved in the infamous Snake Island standoff with 13 Ukrainian defenders who refused to surrender to a Russian warship, instead telling the warship crew “Go f–k yourself.” However, the Russian warship Vasily Bykov was also reported to be involved in the standoff and was destroyed by a Ukrainian attack in March.

Ukrainian adviser in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Anton Gerashchenko, said on Telegram that “something exploded” and “the cruiser ‘Moskva’ almost sank to the bottom.”

Ukrainian presidential advisor Oleksiy Arestovych said during a YouTube broadcast that “a surprise happened with the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet,” referring to the Mosvka, according to AFP.

“It burns strongly. Right now. And with this stormy sea, it is unknown whether they will be able to receive help. There are 510 crew members,” he added.