What the sinking of the Moskva could imply for the Russian war effort

FILE PHOTO: The Russian Navy's guided missile cruiser Moskva sails back into a harbour after tracking NATO warships in the Black Sea, in the port of Sevastopol, Crimea November 16, 2021. REUTERS/Alexey Pavlishak/File Photo

The Russian guided-missile cruiser Moskva lays deep under the Black Sea today.

Ukraine alleges that it hit Moskva with missiles, resulting in the sink. Russia has argued the purpose for the sinking was a fire.

The United States on Friday supported Ukraine’s statement, with a senior defense official saying that it believes that two Ukrainian Neptune missiles struck the Russian warship in the Black Sea.

What does the loss of the Moskva implies for the Russian war effort?
The biggest impact may be on Russian morale. CNN reports that as the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, the Moskva was one of its most visible assets in the Ukraine war.

Nexus News gathered that Moscow carefully regulates news about the war in Russia, however, it will be difficult to conceal the sudden absence of such a large ship.

Also, its loss will put up skepticisms about Russia’s war fighting abilities, whether it was due to enemy action or accident.

“Both explanations for the sinking of the Moskva indicate possible Russian deficiencies — either poor air defenses or incredibly lax safety procedures and damage control on the Black Sea Fleet’s flagship,” analysts Mason Clark, Kateryna Stepanenko and George Barros at the Institute for the Study of War wrote in their daily war briefing.

According to Carl Schuster, a former US Navy captain, the doubts went all the way to the Kremlin.

“It raises questions about naval competence 10 years after (Russian President Vladimir) Putin announced he was going to restore the navy’s capabilities, morale and professionalism,” Schuster said.

“It seems he has not been able to keep any of his promises for any of Russia’s military services,” Schuster said, noting Russia had suffered setbacks on land too.

Nevertheless, analysts are divided on what effect the sinking will have on the Russian invasion.

The ISW analysts see it as a relatively minor blow, saying the ship was mostly used for cruise missile strikes on Ukrainian logistic centers and airfields.

Russia has land-based systems and strike aircraft that can do the same thing, they said.

However, they added that if it was indeed a Ukrainian missile that led to the sinking, the Russian navy would have to rethink its operations, possibly moving ships farther from Ukrainian territory and adjusting their air defenses.

In Washington, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the Moskva’s main mission was air defense for the Russian forces in the Black Sea.

“It will have an impact on that capability, certainly in the near term,” Kirby told reporters.

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