The Russian Defense Ministry has admitted that one sailor is dead and 27 others are missing after the sinking of the cruiser Moskva, state news agency Ria reported. The ministry also said that 396 crew members were rescued.
Until then, Moscow had refused to comment on reports of sailors missing in the destruction of the Moskva, the Russian warship that was in the Black Sea and that Ukraine says was sunk in an attack last week.
“All information is released by the defense ministry. We do not have the prerogative to communicate,” presidential spokesman Dmitri Peskov said when questioned earlier this week.
In recent days, testimonies published in the press and posted on social media began to mention missing sailors.
A sailor looks at the Russian ship Moskva at anchor in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol on the Black Sea in 2013 — Photo: Reuters
A man who lives in Crimea, identified as Dmitri Shkrebrets, introduced himself as the father of a missing man and posted a message on the social network Vkontakte on Sunday in which he asked why his son, a mere recruit, was in a combat zone.
One woman, Yulia Tsyvova, also claimed her son was missing.
Officially, the ship’s crew had been evacuated. Official sources said there were no dead, injured or missing.
Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov in a meeting with the crew rescued from the Moskva, according to images released by the Russian Ministry of Defense — Photo: Russian Ministry of Defense
Russian authorities say the Moskva sank after a fire ignited by exploding munitions. Ukraine claims its forces sank it in a missile attack.
On Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry released a video that it presented as the encounter between a navy commander and dozens of those rescued from the ship – which could have had up to 680 crew members.
The sinking of the cruiser is a humiliation for Russian forces and even analysts close to the Kremlin asked, in vain, for an explanation from the authorities.
Russia admitted on March 25 1,351 casualties among its forces during the operation in Ukraine, a figure impossible to verify with independent sources and which has not been updated since.