Russia has launched an investigation and salvage mission to the recently sunk Russian flagship, the Moskva. The Russian Navy has reportedly sent their 100-year-old salvage ship named the “Kommuna” to recover some of the equipment that may still be functional from the Moskva from under the Black Sea waters. The Kommuna is part of an 8-unit salvage fleet sent to the wreckage.  The Moskva lies about 80 miles off the coast of Crimea in less than 200 feet of water.

According to Ukrainian accounts of the attack, the Moskva, which was recently assigned to its “Special Underwater Operation,” was sunk by two Neptune anti-ship missiles last April 14th. However, the Russians, who have been trying to save face from the incident, have claimed that a “fire” had started on board that resulted in a cook-off due to ammunition that would cripple the Moskva.  She would then be taken under tow and then sink in rough weather.

Short photos and videos of the Moskva being badly damaged and on fire had emerged on social media platforms last week. In these photos, the Russian guided-missile cruiser was seen to have holes and puncture marks on its port side. These holes had large plumes of black smoke rising from the ship. According to military analysts, all photographic and video evidence is consistent with an anti-ship cruise missile attack.

An alleged photo of the Moskva being hit by Neptune missiles (John Konrad V). Source:
An alleged photo of the Moskva being hit by Neptune missiles (John Konrad V/Twitter).

Peskov has denied the authenticity of the videos and photographs, stating that they could not determine if the ship shown in the photos and videos was really the Moskva.

“Yes, we really saw the footage, but we cannot say how authentic and true it is,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. On the other hand, the US also said that it could not verify those images as well but said that “the images themselves comport with what we had assessed to be the damage done to the ship.”