A video released by Russia’s Defense Ministry alleging dozens of uniformed crew members from the missile cruiser Moskva standing in formation, apparently days after the ship sank, failed to answer lingering questions about the fate of the ship and its lake. than 500 employees.
The questions reached the point on Saturday that even Vladimir Solovyev, a popular prime-time talk show host whose statements often reflect the Kremlin’s line, began to question what went wrong.
Mr Solovyev, who described himself as “outraged” at the sinking, then posed a series of rhetorical questions that questioned both versions of how the Black Sea fleet’s ship sank on Wednesday night.
If the ship caught fire before it sank, as the Russians claim, why didn’t it have a system to extinguish such fires, the television host wondered aloud. If the ship was sunk by two Ukrainian-made Neptune missiles, as Ukrainian and unidentified US Defense Department officials have claimed, why didn’t it have an anti-missile defense system?
“Just explain to me how you managed to lose it,” Mr Solovyev said during his Saturday show, without addressing the question to anyone in particular.
The segment was unusual, not least because Mr Solovyev put forward the idea that Ukraine had succeeded in sinking the Moskva, one of the largest naval losses anywhere in the world since World War II.
In general, the Russian media has adhered to the official version issued by the Ministry of Defense and repeated on TASS, a state news agency. That version stated that a fire on board had ignited an ammunition warehouse, severely damaging the Moskva, named after the Russian capital.
After the crew of at least 510 men was evacuated, the ship sank in rough seas, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, while being towed back to Sevastopol, the fleet’s Crimean headquarters. Ukraine has said it hit the ship with two missiles and the ship sank quickly.
The Russian Defense Ministry posted a video on its Telegram channel on Saturday, as well as on the channel of its Zvezda television network, in which Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov, the commander of the Russian Navy, and other officers met with what it said were some of the crew members. from Moscow.
The short video showed the admiral addressing dozens of sailors, but there was no explanation of the fate of the rest. “The traditions of the missile cruiser Moskva will be carefully preserved and continued in the way it has always been accepted by the navy,” he said, adding that the crew would continue to serve elsewhere.
Social media posts suggested some crew members had died, but the toll is unclear. Videos posted online of an unofficial memorial service at a monument to the 300th anniversary of the Black Sea fleet showed a wreath with a ribbon inscribed “To the Ship and the Sailors.”
Radio Liberty, a US government network outside of Russia, reached the widow of a midshipman who confirmed his death and said 27 crew members remained missing.
SOURCE – www.nytimes.com