Russian Ships in Black Sea Still Have 'Way Out' After Moskva Sinks: Ukraine

Ukraine's Ministry of Defense said on Friday that Russian ships in the Black Sea still have "a way out" after the reported sinking of the Russian warship Moskva.

"The Ministry of Defence of Ukraine reminds the russian navy that the Black Sea straits are closed for entry only. The part of your fleet that remains afloat still has a way out," the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense wrote in a tweet.

Friday's tweet comes just a day after reports that the Moskva, one of Russia's major missile cruiser ships in its Black Sea fleet had sunk. Ukrainian officials claimed that the ship sank after it was hit by Ukrainian Neptune missiles.

In a tweet on Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's advisor Oleksiy Arestovych wrote, "The flagship of the Russian navy, Moskva, carried out a negative surfacing operation in the area of that island where it was told to go f*** itself. Where is Moskva? It sunk," as previously translated by Newsweek.

However, Russia's Defense Ministry has disputed these claims and instead said that the ship sank due to a fire. Russia's state-run news outlet, TASS, quoted Russia's Defense Ministry as saying: "During the towing of the Moskva cruiser to the port of destination, the ship lost its stability due to damage to the hull received during the fire from the detonation of ammunition. In the conditions of stormy seas, the ship sank."

Moskva
Ukrainian officials said on Friday that Russian ships in the Black Sea still have "a way out" after reports that the Russian ship Moskva sank on Thursday. Above, Russian citizens are seen waving flags as they welcome Russian missile cruiser Moskva as it entering Sevastopol bay on August 23, 2008. VASILY BATANOV/AFP/Getty

The Ukrainian government's official Twitter account also issued a response to the reports that the ship had sunk, saying "Russian warship, what are you sinking?"

While speaking to MSNBC's Morning Joe on Thursday, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said that the U.S. cannot confirm nor "rule out" that the ship sank after it was hit by a Ukrainian missile.

Kirby also spoke to CNN's Jake Tapper later on Thursday and said it's "certainty plausible and possible" that the ship sank after it was hit by a Ukrainian Neptune missile.

"This is a big blow to the [Russian] Black Sea fleet," Kirby said. "This is a cruiser. Very, very capable warship with almost 500 sailors onboard and a key part of their efforts to execute some sort of naval dominance in the Black Sea. So, this is going to have an effect on their capabilities."

Following the reports of the ship sinking, an analysis from Forbes Ukraine found that this was a loss of approximately $750 million.

Sean Spoonts, editor-in-chief of Special Operations Forces Report, told Newsweek on Thursday that "It could easily be $700 million to replace that ship," but noted that it was unlikely Russia would attempt to replace the ship.

Newsweek reached out to the foreign ministries in Russia and Ukraine for comment.