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Russia confirmed Wednesday that the flagship of its Black Sea fleet had been evacuated after it was “seriously damaged,” claiming that a fire on board caused an explosion, Russian media said.
The vessel was evacuated, Reuters reported.
Ukrainian officials, however, said their military hit the ship with two cruise missiles. Russia didn’t go into detail about what it believed caused the fire.
Maksym Marchenko, governor of the Odesa region in Ukraine’s south, said, “Neptune missiles guarding the Black Sea caused very serious damage” to the Russian Moskva missile cruiser.
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Unconfirmed reports early Thursday said the ship had sunk.
Last month, Ukraine said it destroyed another key Russian ship on the Sea of Azov, the Orsk, a landing support ship.
Russia’s naval ships have been strategically placed in the Black Sea to support the military’s effort to take control of south Ukrainian port cities like Mariupol, according to Reuters.
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Ukraine says tens of thousands of people have died in Mariupol and the government has accused Russia of war crimes there and in other cities for allegedly targeting civilians.