India-Backed Site Claims Video of Moskva Ship on Fire Is Recycled

A video circulating online that claims to show a flame-engulfed Russian warship sinking after being struck by a Ukrainian missile is fake, an Indian fact-checking website has determined.

The infrared video showing smoke billowing from the doomed ship is rehashed footage from years earlier and is not the famed Moskva naval cruiser Ukrainian forces took credit for sinking, The Quint reported on Monday. While Ukraine and Russia continue to offer differing accounts for the ship's damage, the debunked video is the latest example of misinformation that has clouded the conflict.

Ukraine's military last week proclaimed that it had successfully launched Neptune missiles at the Moskva, badly damaging the flagship of Russia's Black Sea Fleet and striking a major blow against the invading country's military. Russian military officials blamed damage to the Soviet-era ship on a fire caused by the detonation of ammunition that occurred while it was being towed.

One video making its rounds on social media claimed to capture the dramatic aftermath of the Ukrainian missile strike. However, WebQoof, The Quint's fact-checking service, compared the viral video with older footage. It found the video claiming to be the Moskva was actually from 2019 and shows a ship flying the flag of Tanzania in the Black Sea.

Russian Black Sea Fleet Moskva
An India-backed fact-checking service has found the recent footage of the Russian missile cruiser Moskva is a doctored video from 2019. Above, pro-Russia supporters wave flags as they welcome the Moskva as it enters Sevastopol Bay on September 10, 2008. VASILY BATANOV/Getty Images

"We matched the visuals from the 2019 video and compared it with the viral video and found that a green screen was added and the original video was flipped," according to WebQoof.

Referencing past reporting, WebQoof reports that the original video shows two ships with Indian, Turkish and Libyan crewmembers catching fire in the strategically significant Kerch Strait, which separates Crimea from Russia. The fire broke out on the ships, both flying Tanzania's flag, killing 14 sailors. One ship was a liquified natural gas carrier and the other a tanker.

Moskva was made famous early in the Russia-Ukraine War after Ukrainian border guards risked their lives by defiantly cursing the ship's crew and refusing to surrender. Following the ship's demise, other videos, including one by a top Ukrainian official, emerged online.

Another short clip purports to show the Moskva sinking in the Black Sea. Sidharth Kaushal, a sea power research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, confirmed to The Independent that the video is of Moskva.

Questions have continued to swirl around the sinking of the Moskva.

The Kremlin has yet to publicly acknowledge any casualties and said its roughly 500 personnel were safely evacuated. But authorities have told families of crewmembers that their relatives are "missing in action." Russians have taken to social media to question the whereabouts of their missing family members.

The Moskva is the third-largest in Russia's fleet, and was reportedly being used as a weapons store for its military's ongoing invasion of Ukraine. The loss of the ship has been described by experts as a major setback for its offensive, which has reportedly turned its focus to Ukraine's port cities in the Black Sea.

Newsweek reached out to the Pentagon for comment.