Last year, on April 13, the Naval Forces of Ukraine destroyed the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation - the missile cruiser "Moskva". Russia made no comment on its loss and has never reported how many Russian soldiers died on the warship. It was both a great military loss for the Russians and a blow to their confidence. After the sinking of the "Moskva", the Russian fleet moved far from Ukrainian shores.

Later, the Ukrainian military reported that the cruiser was destroyed by Ukrainian Neptune missiles. It was a matter of honor, because this ship took part in the storming of Zmiiny Island on February 24, 2022, and a Ukrainian soldier addressed it with the infamous words: "Russian warship, go f*ck yourself."

It is quite symbolic that the cruiser, built in the Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, was used by the Russians in attacks against Ukrainians and was destroyed by Ukrainian missiles.

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How did it happen?

On the evening of April 13, representatives of the Ukrainian authorities announced that the flagship of the Russian Navy had been struck by two Neptune anti-ship missiles causing a major outbreak of fire onboard the ship.

The Russian Ministry of Defense later confirmed there had been fire on the ship which caused its ammunition to detonate. The Russian authorities did not give a cause of the fire.

On April 14, Russia was forced to confirm the information already provided by the Ukrainian military that the "Moskva" had sunk. According to the Russian Federation, this happened as a result of the damage caused by fire and a storm that engulfed the cruiser, which never made it back to port.

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How many sailors died?

The actual number remains a Russian secret. Data published by the Russian Ministry of Defense, on April 22, claimed that one sailor was killed, 27 were missing, and 396 people had been evacuated.

The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine believes that many more died. The representative of Ukrainian intelligence, Vadym Skibytsky, said that sailors bodies were removed from the cruiser by the Russian military, during a search operation that lasted at least two weeks.

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"Five to seven ships were involved. For the most part, these were rescue ships, boats, and tugboats that retrieved the bodies, removed all classified equipment and carried out the cleaned cruiser to ensure nothing could fall into the hands of a third country," Skibytskyi said.

According to preliminary data, the full crew of "Moskva" should have been between 510 to 758, although the actual number at the time of its loss was between 416 and 680 people. It is probable that Russian information of the limited number of casualties is unreliable; the crew included a large number of conscripts.

After the sinking, relatives began to look for their loved ones. A Russian publication, “The Insider” spoke with the mother of a sailor, Yevhen Shkrebets. She said that she and her husband were at the hospital where the wounded were brought from the cruiser and, according to her, there were about 200 injured sailors. Shkrebets' mother said, there were more than 500 people on the ship. It is unknown where the others are, she added. The parents did not find their son.

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The couple began publishing posts on the Russian social network Vkontakte criticizing the authorities which had failed to provide any information about the dead.

What did the loss of "Moskva" mean?

The destruction of the cruiser "Moskva" was a real surprise for the Russians. After all, the Russian Federation had repeatedly emphasized the strength of its fleet.

The Financial Times, cited sources, that said Putin was very angry about the loss of the ship and it was that, allegedly, made him decide to abandon the idea of peace negotiations with Ukraine.

For Ukraine, it was a great military success that gave a positive view of the capability of its domestic Neptune missiles. Sadly on April 15 of last year, Russian rockets destroyed the factory that was engaged in the development of "Neptune".

But this did not upset the Ukrainians who, instead, began to create various souvenirs after the destruction of the cruiser. A postage stamp portraying the sinking of the ship, which had been produced prior to the successful attack had sold out by April 15.

A year later, the Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Oleksiy Reznikov, describes the destruction of "Moskva" as "an inspiring and at the same time incredible event."

"Our soldiers did the seemingly impossible. And it changed the course of history. Because a chain reaction has started. It was the last day of dominance of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea.

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"As a result, the Russian fleet is forced to hide south and east of Crimea. The Kremlin's dreams of landing in Odessa are a thing of the past. Now the Russians can only cowardly fire at civilians from the air," he wrote on Facebook.

An exhibition has opened at the National Military Historical Museum of Ukraine, in Kyiv, to mark the anniversary of the event – there you can learn in detail about the destruction of the cruiser.

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