Ukraine is Claiming that the Russian Cruiser Moskva was struck by Two Missiles

According to the Odesa regional governor Maksym Marchenko, Ukraine has hit the Guided Missile Cruiser and the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, “Moskva” with two surface to surface missiles earlier today. The missiles employed may have been Harpoons recently said to have arrived in Ukraine from the UK or Ukraine’s own anti-ship cruise missile system, the RK-360MC Neptune. As early as last week, the Moskva was believed to be in port in Sevastopol.  This report is unconfirmed as of this writing but should be easy enough to disprove if she comes sailing back into Sevastopol in view of news cameras unscathed.

The Moskva is a ship designed to fight other ships during the Cold War, specifically American carrier strike groups.  She is armed with anti-ship cruise missiles rather than land-attack missiles so she has not been useful in engaging ground targets in Ukraine.  But the Moskva does have an excellent(until today) air defense radar system and missiles.  She may have been used as an air defense picket ship to give air search radar capability out into the sea of Azov for Russian forces.

Ukraine has made two previous claims of sinking Russian ships that have proven to be false in past weeks. The Neptune has a maximum range of 300km and is subsonic so the Moskva would have had to be pretty close to the mainland and not paying attention to their screens to get hit by two missiles. The Neptune is fired from a four-shot launcher so it is plausible Moskva might have detected and shot down two and was hit by two. Russia will be unlikely to confirm the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet was hit, let alone sunk, but if in the next 24-48 hours we see lots of naval activity in the Black Sea and ocean-going tugs out there it will suggest the Ukrainians hit their mark.

The Moskva has a crew in excess of 500.

Update: The Russian navy has confirmed severe damage to the vessel and that the crew has abandoned ship.

Helicopters For Ukraine, Then No Helicopters for Ukraine

Following news that the United States was considering providing Ukraine with Russian-made Mi-17 transport helicopters that can be used in an attack role as part of the latest $750 million military aid package, Defence Department officials are now saying it is off the table. This was after the administration gave notice to Congress that it intended to make the transfer so it was more than an idea being floated around.

In January the State Department approved the transfer of 5 Mi-17s that were in Ukraine for maintenance that belonged to the now defunct Afghan Air Force to be transferred to Ukraine.

Three of the 30 bought by the Army for the Afghans are believed to have ended up in the hands of the Taliban while others were flown out of the country or destroyed in place before the humiliating evacuation of US forces from Kabul last year. It is not known how many of the Mi-17s are still in the US inventory.