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.
In November 2021, 3 Mi-17s arrived at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona carried by a Ukrainian air cargo plane. It is unknown if the helicopters were in a functional state, but Davis-Monthan is the location of the Bone Yard where hundreds of non-operational aircraft are stored to be later stripped of parts or broken up.
In 2013, the US Army awarded a $572.2 million dollar contract to purchase 30 Mi-17 helicopters from JSC Rosoboronexport in Moscow including spare parts, test equipment, and engineering support. The Mi-17 is a medium-lift helicopter that performs well in hot weather at high elevations in Afghanistan which is where the helicopters were to be used.
The Mi-17 has a crew of 3, can carry as many as 30 passengers or troops, or 12 stretchers, or nearly 9,000 pounds of cargo. It is powered by two Klimov TV3-117VM turboshaft engines and can reach altitudes as high as 20,000 feet.
It is possible that the helicopters remaining in the US inventory would require more time and money to make them airworthy than Ukraine has right now.
A Report From an American Serving in Ukraine
We are in contact with several Americans serving in the Ukraine Armed Forces who send us information and intel from the ground. For reasons of operational and personal security, we will not identify them by name, location, or assigned unit. Below is some of the latest and most interesting stuff they have sent us.
Russia has been bribing Ukrainian children, groomed online, to act as spotters for them, convincing them that they won’t get in trouble because they’re children.
Russian Combat Losses in Perspective.
Personnel – about 19 800,
Tanks ‒ 739,
Armored Fighting Vehicles ‒ 1964,
Artillery systems – 358,
Multiple Launch Rockey Systems – 115,
Anti-Aircraft warfare systems – 64,
Aircraft – 158,
Helicopters – 143,
Vehicles – 1429,
Warships/boats – 7,
Fuel tankers – 76,
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles – 132,
Special equipment – 25,
Mobile Short Range Ballistic Missile system – 4.
We do not assume these numbers are on the dot accurate, nor do we assume that they are wildly off either. The photographic and video evidence combined with the general withdrawal of Russian army forces after failing to attain their objectives points to them being pretty close. That being said, these losses represent about two entire Russian armored divisions lost with all their equipment and personnel. Its aircraft losses are equivalent to the US Air Force losing nearly an entire Air Group of fixed-wing aircraft along with more than two entire Heavy Combat Aviation Brigades of the US Army of helicopters.
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