Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, hailed the sinking of Russia’s renowned guided missile cruiser the Moskva as the Black Sea’s newest “diving site” on Friday.
Ukraine officials reported — and a Pentagon source confirmed — that the Russian navy’s Black Sea fleet flagship sank Thursday after at least two Ukrainian Neptune missiles struck it.
Russia acknowledged a fire on board but did not admit the ship had been hit. Kremlin officials said the Moskva sank in stormy seas as it was being hauled to a port after it was evacuated.
The once-mighty warship will now make a “worthy” dive site, quipped Reznikov, who’s an ocean diver.
“Will definitely visit the wreck after our victory in the war,” he added in a tweet that featured a photo of him on a dive.
The loss of the Moskva is both a real and a devastating symbolic loss for Russia.
It’s also one that holds particular significance for Ukrainians. During the first days of the war, it was reportedly officers on the Moskva who ordered Ukrainian soldiers stationed on Snake Island in the Black Sea to surrender. Instead, they replied via radio: “Russian warship, go fuck yourself.”
It was initially believed all the Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the confrontation. Some did die, but others were captured by Russia, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told journalists last month.
Those captured — including the soldier who actually transmitted the message to the warship — were released as part of a prisoner swap, and all were honored in Ukraine as heroes.
After the showdown, Ukraine quickly issued a new stamp highlighting the soldiers’ defiant response that featured an image of one of them flipping off the warship.