The blast represented another military setback for Russia, which has suffered a series of blows since its February 24 attack on Ukraine, which Moscow describes as a “special military operation” aimed at “de-Nazification” of its neighbour.
Interfax added that all crew members of the ship had been evacuated. It quoted the ministry as saying that the explosion was caused by a fire, adding that the cause of the explosion was being investigated.
A Ukrainian official had previously said that Moskva was hit by two anti-ship missiles, but he did not provide any evidence for this. The ship’s 12,500-ton crew usually has about 500 crew members.
“As a result of a fire in the missile cruiser Moskva, an ammunition exploded. The ship was seriously damaged,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement. “The entire crew has been evacuated,” she said.
Russian news agencies said Moskva, which began operating in 1983, was armed with 16 Vulcan anti-ship cruise missiles with a range of at least 700 km. Interfax did not give further details about the incident.
In April 2021, the agency quoted a retired Russian admiral as saying, “This is the most dangerous ship in the Black Sea.”
Kyiv says Moskva was involved in one of the early clashes of the war, when Ukrainian border guards on the small Black Sea island of Snyk refused an order from the ship to surrender.
Ukrainian officials initially said all 13 border guards died in the ensuing Russian attack, but President Volodymyr Zelensky later said some of them survived.
Maxim Marchenko, the governor of the region around the Black Sea port of Odessa, said earlier that Moskva was hit by two Ukrainian-made Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles, but he did not provide evidence.
Ukraine said last month it had destroyed a large Russian landing support ship, the Orsk, in the Sea of Azov to the northeast of the Black Sea. Moscow has not commented on what happened to that ship.
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