It was earlier reported that Ukraine had destroyed and sunk the flagship cruiser of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the “Moskva,” with two Neptune anti-ship missiles a few days ago early Thursday morning.
The Russian Defense Ministry denied the claims, saying that a fire has broken out on the ship, which detonated its stored ammunition. It was then reportedly towed to a nearby port when it sank due to the rough seas.
“During the towing of the Moskva cruiser to the designation port, the ship lost stability due to hull damage, sustained during the detonation of ammunition because of a fire. Amid the heavy storm, the ship sank,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.
However, they later backtracked and claimed that the ship was still buoyant and that its main armament was not damaged. That adds to the confusion regarding the fate of the Moskva.
While it is obvious that the two accounts differ, US and Western officials favor the account of the Ukrainians, with the US believing the story with “medium confidence.”
If the Ukrainian account is verified, this would mean that they have successfully destroyed the first Russian flagship since the Russian-Japanese War in 1904. But regardless of these two accounts, they all have one thing in common: the Moskva was damaged and has sunk.
For a more detailed account of what we think happened, check out this piece by SOFREP Editor-in-chief Sean Spoonts, where he breaks down the Moskva incident in some detail. In that piece he stated that Pentagon reports of the vessel being damaged but still afloat were probably the most reliable but stated that the damage to the ship combined with the rough weather might still result in her sinking while being under tow. This proved to be the case as hours later the Russian Defence Ministry confirmed that the vessel had sunk
Moskva and Internet Trolling
With the widespread news that the Moskva had sunk, the internet exploded (pun intended) with a ton of jokes and trolling on the matter. These trolls, some laden with propaganda (as you’d expect with a war), had put on some of their witty jokes to make fun of Russia. This trolling comes expected as Russia had once touted itself as one of the best and most advanced militaries in the entire world, some would say only second to the United States.
However, the war in Ukraine has seriously made the entire world doubt this Russian claim of being militarily superior. What was once touted as the country which had one of the largest militaries in the world is now the subject of internet trolls as they were unable to defend their flagship cruiser. This recent incident tells you a lot about their military doctrine and tactics, no doubt.
While the Ukrainians did not start the trolling, it was surely one of the countries that took advantage of the news. Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov was one of the government officials that joked about the alleged shipwreck. The defense minister tweeted a photograph of him scuba diving with a turtle and stated that the Russian warship was a “worthy diving site” located in the Black Sea.
A "flagship" russian warship is a worthy diving site. We have one more diving spot in the Black Sea now. Will definitely visit the wreck after our victory in the war.
BTW, I already have 300 scuba dives pic.twitter.com/q2Buc51qeI
— Oleksii Reznikov (@oleksiireznikov) April 15, 2022
He went on to say that he had some 300 scuba dives under his belt.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky threw some shade on the Russians and said that Russian ships could go “to the bottom only” during his speech regarding the Ukrainians’ military successes.
Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko also joined the trolling and said that the Moskva was now part of the “submarine fleet” in a tweet she sent out last April 14.
The Euromaidan Press, with their report of the Moskva incident, tweeted a photo that depicted the Moskva being towed by what seems to be a tractor. This is in reference to the fact that Ukrainian farmers have been towing various types of Russian tanks and armored vehicles back to their homes. It was because of this phenomenon that the internet dubbed Ukrainian farmers as having one of the largest militaries in the world.
The Russian Moskva cruiser that sunk on 14 April could carry 16 anti-ship missiles P-1000 Vulkan, which can be equipped with a 350-kilogram nuclear warhead or a conventional half-ton high-explosive cumulative warhead. https://t.co/pyqdxgCP8Y https://t.co/7I3TD8HD6O
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) April 15, 2022
— Col McGowan (@mm0ndx) April 13, 2022
This leaked image shows what really happened to the Moskva. pic.twitter.com/3pnFAVDJfS
— George Allison (@geoallison) April 15, 2022
A random Twitter user named “Sol Infectus” jokingly claimed that the Moskva was now promoted to a submarine. Various memes on the subject had also claimed that Russia’s “Operation Z” was now the “Operation Control Z,” referring to the “undo” shortcut function of computers.
A parody account of the Russian news network “Sputnik” named “Sputnik_Not” claimed that the Russian sailors managed to put the fire out on the Moskva, then tweeted a photo that depicted a ship resting on the seafloor.
BREAKING: Crew of missile cruiser Moskva manage to put out the fire pic.twitter.com/YV86xOIOMa
— Sputnik (@Sputnik_Not) April 14, 2022
The parody account also claimed that the Moskva was really out to “intercept” two Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missiles, to which it was successful, according to the joke. Furthermore, a very famous Vladimir Putin parody account on Twitter named “Darth Putin” (@DarthPutinKGB) said that “he” was taking charge of the investigation of the Moskva sinking.
Taking personal charge of investigation into Moskva sinking. pic.twitter.com/57o81qyFBZ
— Darth Putin (@DarthPutinKGB) April 15, 2022
The Russians Caught Slipping
With all of the internet trolling they have been getting, the Russians have been caught slipping due to an apparent non-coherence with their stories regarding what really happened to their flagship carrier.
Russian filmmaker Vladimir Bortko practically weeps on national TV when discussing the sunk Moskva warship, shouting that this is a “real casus belli” for war against Ukraine. Except, oops, the Russian military blames it on exploded ammunition. Get your stories straight, guys! pic.twitter.com/JSDiJDI5aE
— Kevin Rothrock (@KevinRothrock) April 15, 2022
Signaling that even Russians don’t believe their own government about the Moskva being sunk by a fire and explosion rather than Ukrainian cruise missiles, the Managing Editor of the Meduza, Kevin Rothrock, points to a Russian filmmaker by the name of Vladimir Bortko, who said on Russian TV that the destruction of the Moskva was a “real casus belli” for the war in Ukraine.
While the real fate of the Moskva is yet to be confirmed, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby did confirm an explosion aboard the Moskva. However, they could not confirm whether what exactly happened.
“We’re not in a position to officially confirm, independently, what exactly led to the ship’s now sinking,” Kirby told CNN. “But we’re also not in any position to refute the Ukrainian side of this. It’s certainly plausible and possible that they did, in fact, hit this with a Neptune missile or maybe more.”
He added that they did not know the cause of the explosion but were able to see photos of the explosion, which he described as “pretty sizable.”
SOFREP was unable to resist the temptation to fire its own shot across the bow of the Russian military on Twitter given the dismal and at times near comical performance of Russian forces in the field thus far:
"Towing ships" now added to the list of things the Russian military isn't very good at. pic.twitter.com/jFbNnr8IWf
— SOFREP (@sofrepofficial) April 14, 2022