- Shayan Sardarizadeh and Leo Sands
Dramatic photos and a credible video of the Russian warship Moskva before sinking last week have spread online. The video and photos match the shape and design of the Moscow Crusade.
Russia says a fire on board the ship caused an ammunition to explode, causing it to sink as it retreated during a naval storm. While Ukraine says it has been hit by missiles.
But the new images do not directly support either side’s claims, as there is no indication that there was a storm at the time.
What do the videos and photos show?
The photos were allegedly taken on April 14, a day after Ukraine said it had hit the warship.
The three-second video – presumably taken from a lifeboat – shows Moscow from a dramatically inclined distance on its side.
The Russian Schachter tug is likely to be seen to his right as well.
Smoke can be seen rising from the ship, with part of the floating deck on the side of the severely damaged ship.
Holes are also visible in other parts of the side of the ship between the diving section and its deck in one of the photos, which shows that a large amount of water has penetrated into the warship.
It also appears that all of the ship’s lifeboats are scattered around it.
Are there more details about the reasons drowning?
Ukraine said it struck the Ukrainian-made Neptun missile warship last Wednesday.
U.S. officials, unidentified by U.S. media, said they trusted the Ukrainian account.
Russia claims Moscow was damaged after an explosion on board and then sank in “big waves”.
The BBC showed the footage to naval expert Jonathan Bentham of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, who concluded that the ship pictured was undoubtedly a Slavic-class cruiser and “probably” Moscow.
Bentham said the apparent cruiser damage was consistent with a possible Neptune rocket attack, but stressed that other causes could not be ruled out.
“Traces of smoke on the side of the ship appear to be close to the water level line. This could indicate traces of naval rockets, which were said to be Neptune rockets,” Bentham said.
Bentham also noted that the barn doors were open, which is believed to be an indication of a rapid helicopter evacuation attempt.
“Barn doors usually close as a good base to insulate everything in them,” Bentham said.
fuel leakAnother expert, Rear Admiral Chris Barry, who commanded a Royal Navy destroyer, told the BBC he believed the damage was apparently from a rocket attack. “You can see the side of the inflated ship from the inside. If it were an explosion, you would see the steel sheets coming out,” Barry added. The admiral, who was a former NATO commander, said one explanation for the massive damage caused by the smoke was that the missiles stored at the cruiser were drilled in the attack and their fuel had leaked into the ships. The length of the deck of the ship, causing a devastating fire. Barry added: “You can see the decks are completely crooked, and it looks like the whole ship has burned. I think the fuel has spread all over the deck even under the bottom of the ship.”
ammunition explosionAnother military expert, Siddharth Kaushal of the Royal United Services Institute, told the BBC that the main area damaged by the fire was “the location of the anti-aircraft ammunition aboard the ship”. “The fire that broke out with the first blow caused the anti-aircraft guns to explode.”
Sea conditions and atmosphere
While conditions may change at different times, there is nothing in the video to support the Kremlin’s initial claim that Moscow sank due to extreme weather conditions.
Prior to the sinking, the Russian Defense Ministry issued a statement saying: “The ship was severely damaged and the entire crew was evacuated.”
The BBC has not been able to verify these allegations.
Russia did not accept the victims either. On Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry released footage showing what it called the Moscow crew at a parade in the Crimean coastal city of Sevastopol.
Luftanija Moskva, with a crew of 510 sailors, led the Russian naval attack on Ukraine, making it an important symbolic and military target.
Earlier in the conflict, Moscow gained notoriety as Ukrainian border forces defending the Black Sea island of snakes called for surrender and the defamatory message of rejection that Ukrainians responded to over the radio was not forgotten.