Sinking of warship a ‘big blow’ to Putin, says Pentagon

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The missile cruiser Moskva is the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. (AP pic)

AFP

WASHINGTON: The sinking of the warship Moskva on Thursday after it was engulfed in an inferno was a “big blow” to Russia’s naval strength in the Black Sea, the Pentagon said Thursday.

The guided-missile cruiser sank in rough seas after being damaged by fire during Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, Moscow’s defence ministry said.

But Ukraine said the ship had been hit in a rocket attack.

“This is a big blow to the Black Sea fleet, this is … a key part of their efforts to execute some sort of naval dominance in the Black Sea,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told CNN.

“This is going to have an effect on their capabilities.”

Kirby said the US could not confirm the exact cause of the ship’s demise.

“We’re also not in any position to refute the Ukrainian side of this,” he added. “It’s certainly plausible and possible that they did in fact hit this with a Neptune missile or maybe more.”