No matter what “tankie” Twitter has to say, the U.S. Department of Defense has now confirmed that the Russian missile cruiser Moskva (“Moscow”) sank after being struck by Neptune missiles fired by Ukrainian coastal defense. Honestly, the U.S. was very likely aware of this from before the moment when the missiles struck home, because even if Ukraine controlled the Bayraktar drone that distracted the Moskva’s single radar, someone with very sophisticated equipment (like *cough* a U.S. AWACS plane *cough*) had to inform Ukraine that the Russians were genuinely directing their attention at the drone. So the whole 'gee, we’re not sure, could have been '… 'yes, yes, seems like it was Ukraine' act from the U.S. side was a bit of theater.
With a displacement of over 12,000 tons and a length greater than two football fields, the Moskva was a large ship. In fact, it may be the largest ship to go down in war since World War II. Argentina lost the light cruiser General Belgrano during the Falklands War in 1982, but even though that ship carried a crew twice the size of the Moskva, it was actually about 3,000 tons lighter and just a smidge shorter.
And there’s another way that the Moskva may be a larger loss.
The Moskva carried a complement of 510, including officers. If 58 is an accurate count of survivors, then 452 men went down with the flagship of the Black Sea fleet. That Argentine ship in 1982 had a crew of 1,138 when a British submarine scored a direct hit with three torpedoes. Over 250 were killed in the resulting explosions. However, as the ship began to list, the captain ordered the crew to abandon ship. Life rafts were deployed and, despite increasingly bad weather, rescue vessels later pulled 772 men out of the water. Total losses were 323 killed.
Whatever happened with the Moskva under cloud cover on the Black Sea, it does not seem to have been an orderly evacuation. The loss of crew also seems to be largest recorded since World War II.
At this point, Ukraine estimates that 20,000 Russian soldiers have been killed. Oryx records over 2,900 large pieces of equipment destroyed, including over 500 tanks. Not only has Russia lost the flagship of the Black Sea fleet, it earlier lost the 370’ long, 3,400 ton landing ship Saratov. At least two other large ships have withdrawn from the fight after being damaged in the same attack that set the Saratov on fire, resulting in its sinking.
Most of what is being spread around Russian television is ridiculous, even as propaganda. But those claims that this is already World War III? Measured on a scale of the losses Russia is racking up, they may be right.
Reprinted with permission from DailyKos