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NEW PHOTOS APPEAR TO SHOW RUSSIAN WARSHIP MOSKVA BEFORE IT SANK

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New photos appear to show Russian warship Moskva before it sank

New photos and a short video clip has emerged on social media showing Russia’s guided missile cruiser. the Moskva. badly damaged and on fire in the hours before the ship sank in the Black Sea on Thursday. The sinking of the Black Sea fleet flagship was the biggest wartime loss of a naval ship in 40 years and a huge embarrassment for Russia. The images show the Moskva listing to one side. with black holes from possible missile puncture marks. and significant scarring at and just above the waterline on the port (left) side in the middle of the vessel. A large plume of black smoke can be seen billowing upwards. partly obscuring the front of the stricken ship. Analysts who spoke to CNN confirmed that the warship in the images looked like the Moskva. a Slava Class guided missile destroyer and the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet. Ukraine and Russia have provided conflicting accounts of what happened during Thursday’s incident in the Black Sea. Moscow has denied the Ukrainian version of events that the Moskva sank after being struck by Ukrainian missiles but it admitted the ship went down. Russia has insisted the reason for the sinking was a fire. but the US on Friday confirmed Ukraine’s account. with a senior defence official saying that the US believes that two Ukrainian Neptune missiles hit the Russian warship. Carl Schuster. a retired US Navy captain and former director of operations at the US Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center told CNN on Monday that his assessment was that the missiles penetrated below the ship’s bridge and detonated. ‘Assuming the photo is not faked in some way or photo shopped. it looks like the missile(s) hit forward. which is not unexpected.’ he said. ‘Anti Ship Cruise Missiles (ASCMs) tend to go for the centre of the radar return. which typically is the forward section of the superstructure.’ H I Sutton. an independent defence analyst and author. told CNN the damage shown on the photos ‘does not rule out a missile strike(s). and it remains the likely cause.’ ‘Possible puncture marks in the side of the hull are visible below where the fire is. But these would need closer examination to confirm whether they were caused by missiles or are simply fire damage.’ he said. The Moskva was armed with a range of anti ship and anti aircraft missiles as well as torpedoes. naval guns and missile defence systems. meaning it would have had large amounts of explosives aboard. The Russian military has not released any information about casualties aboard the Moskva. Russia’s Ministry of Defence released a video Saturday showing what was described as officers and sailors of the sunken warship standing in formation two rows deep. The number of sailors in formation was not clear. It was unclear how many crew members were aboard. or how many survived. Sutton says the images show that all the life rafts have been deployed. ‘All of the aft life raft canisters have been jettisoned. although one remains on the aft deck. This suggests that the crew have already abandoned ship at this point.’ he said. A large Russian rescue tug can be seen dousing the warship with water on the far side. The Kremlin on Monday said it had seen the photos of the Moskva. but that they could not verify them. ‘Yes. we really saw the footage. but we cannot say how authentic and true it is.’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. A senior US defence official who said that they had also seen the photos and video of the ship burning told CNN Monday the US ‘can’t independently verify those images.’ ‘But the images themselves comport with what we had assessed to be the damage done to the ship.’ the official said. The photographers of the images and video are unknown. but they were taken from a vessel close to the stricken warship. In the short video taken from the same vantage point a voice from an unseen person can be heard shouting in Russian: ‘F— (inaudible) what you did!’ The Moskva was one of Russia’s most…

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