Footage has emerged that appears to give a first glimpse of the Russian flagship Moskva after it was blown up by Ukrainian missiles last week and before it sank to the bottom of the Black Sea.
The footage, which appears to have been taken from a salvage vessel alongside the stricken Russian warship, shows damage to her left side as well as flames burning below deck and a thick puff of black smoke rising in the sky.
Moskva is sitting low in the water, leaning to the port side, and appears to have deployed her lifeboats with no crew visible on board. There also appears to be a firefighting ship behind the ship, on the opposite side of the camera, spraying jets of water into the air.
Multiple black marks mark the port side of the ship, including several near deck level where smoke appears to have poured down portholes and left black marks on the paint. But there are also dark markings near the waterline which do not match the position of the portholes and suggest that the vessel has suffered external damage.
This means the footage is largely consistent with Ukrainian descriptions of the sinking – that the Moskva was hit by two missiles on her port side which ignited a fire and rolled her – and contradict Russia’s account that the ship suffered a fire and explosion in rough seas.
Analysts and experts who have reviewed the footage say they appear authentic. Russia is unlikely to confirm the authenticity of the footage, amid a near total blackout of information around the sinking, which is a huge embarrassment to Vladimir Putin’s beleaguered armed forces.
Moscow held what appeared to be a parade of crew members in the port of Sevastopol – in occupied Crimea – on Saturday, in which the captain of the warship and between 150 and 250 of his crew were filmed alongside Black Sea Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov. The Moskva typically carries up to 510 sailors, and there was no word on the fate of the remaining crew or their condition.
But horror tales of the sinking began to emerge from conscripts serving on the ship, with one telling his parents that at least 40 crew members were killed and that “many” are missing or maimed with limbs lost after the strike.
Relatives of another conscript say they discovered some 200 people had been injured, many with horrific burns and other serious injuries.
The young sailor who witnessed the carnage on the Moskva was revealed by Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s main investigative outlet, now operating from outside the country after being gagged by Putin.
“I didn’t hear from her until April 15, two days after the incident,” the distraught mother said.
“My son said that the cruiser was hit from land, from the Ukrainian side, because the fire on board would not have started without reason.
“There are people who have been killed, injured and missing.
‘My son called me as soon as they all got phones [after being rescued].
“Their own documents and phones were on the [sunken} cruiser.
‘He called me, and he cried over what he had seen.
‘It was horrendous. Clearly not everyone survived.’
She said: ‘Most of the wounded have limbs torn off, because of the explosions from both the missiles and the detonated ammunition.
‘My son was crying when he called me on 15 April.
‘He said: ‘Mamochka (tender for mum), I never thought I’d get into such a mess during supposedly peaceful times. I won’t even tell you the details of what I’ve seen, it was so horrendous’.’
The mother said: ‘I don’t want to share his name because I am scared to damage my son.
‘They signed non-disclosure agreements before boarding the cruiser.
‘Please understand me, I am terrified. I am petrified, and I don’t know how I will wait for my son to return.’
She indicated that the Defence Ministry is stopping the survivors from going home, perhaps to prevent accounts of the calamity for Putin reaching the outside world.
‘I’ve no idea how I’ll live through this while waiting for my son to return, waiting for him to finish his service. It’s awful.
‘And the [state] the media, of course, gives no details.
‘Why? Because the Ministry of Defense does not want to admit defeat to Ukraine. He does not want to admit that such a cruiser sank.
In addition, a father has sworn to find out the truth about his conscript son Yegor Shkrebets, 20, ship’s cook on the Moskva, now missing, presumed dead.
It expresses the fury of the parents who feel lied to by the Russian authorities.
Dmitry Shkrebets, from Yalta in annexed Crimea, said: “It has been reported [by Russian state media] that all the crew had been evacuated.
‘This is a lie.
“A blatant and cynical lie.
“My son is a conscript and, as I was informed by the immediate commanders of the cruiser Moskva, he is not among the dead and wounded and is on the list of missing.
“A conscript who was not supposed to take part in hostilities is missing…missing on the high seas.
“After my attempts to clarify the data on the incident, the commander of the cruiser and his deputy stopped communicating.
“I asked directly: how come you officers are alive, and my son, a conscript, is dead?
The father said: “They tried to tow the cruiser to Sevastopol, but on the way it suddenly sank.
‘Keep thinking for yourselves.
I, Dmitry Shkrebets, the father of this conscript Yegor Shkrebets ask everyone who is not afraid and not indifferent.
“Spread my appeal wherever you have the opportunity so that the bastards do not cover up this terrible tragedy.
“Take care of your children, take care of each other.
“And I will dedicate my entire future life to ensuring that the truth wins out in this story.
“A man whose son was abducted in such a despicable way fears nothing.
‘Thank you for not being indifferent.
“Soon they will delete this message again, so copy it.”
He hints that his previous post was deleted by the VK administration – Russian social media.
Yegor’s mother, Irina Shkrebets, told The Insider and said she and her husband went to a hospital in Skalistaya Bay, where they brought the wounded from the cruiser.
According to her, there were about 200 injured sailors.
In total, according to Irina, there were more than 500 people on the ship.
Irina said: “We examined each burned [young sailor].
“I can’t express how difficult it is, but I haven’t found mine.
“There were only 200 there, and there were over five hundred on the cruiser.
‘Where are the others? We turned to Krasnodar, and other [cities]called everyone, but we couldn’t find him.
Her son had been drafted in August and was involved in the incident when the Moskva took Snake Island early in the war.
After the sinking of the Moskva, she said: “We went to unity.
“The commander came out, put his hands up and said, ‘I won’t tell you anything.’
‘I said, ‘Where is my son?’, and he said, ‘Well, somewhere in the sea.
‘My husband started discussing, ‘What does it mean in the sea? Where were you?’
But the unit commander refused to answer.
“These commanders weren’t on the ship.”
The parents tried to get a response from the FSB – Russia’s Federal Security Service, the main internal security agency.
“We arrived at the FSB in Sevastopol, where even a man refused to come out – they were standing behind the fence,” she said.
“My husband yelled, ‘Get out and call the police. Let me punch you in the face.
“He didn’t even come out, behind bars he showed his hands crossed, to say goodbye, that’s all.
“This is the service of the Navy and the FSB of Sevastopol.”
They tried to get the authorities to show them the list of dead and missing, but they were refused.
A commander who was on board the ship also contacted Irina.
She recalled: “I said, ‘Can you at least tell me how my son died?
“And he said, ‘I don’t know anything, they were at the refueling station. We had missiles all over the cruiser.
“He could not say and did not say one way or another that a missile had actually hit the cruiser.”
The Agentstvo media identified another conscript, Mark Tarasov, 24, who was called up after studying at university.
His mother Ulyana Tarasova, 47, posted on her page on VK on April 17: “My son, Tarasov Mark, disappeared on the cruiser Moskva.”
His son graduated from St. Petersburg State Transport University and was called up in the fall of 2021.
She posted photos from the train station when she accompanied him to military service.
Taras himself posted photos with the caption, “See you in a year.”
Agentsvo got in touch with the woman – a friend – who was pictured with Taras in one of the farewell photos.
She confirmed that he had gone to serve in the Navy.
Previously, Taras – now presumed dead – had traveled to Portugal, Sweden and Greece.
Navy chief Admiral Nikolay Yevmenov, 60, admitted over the weekend that there had been conscripts on board – despite assurances from the Kremlin that they would not fight in the war.