U.S. officials said Friday they are increasingly convinced that a Ukrainian missile sank Russia’s leading warship in the Black Sea this week, as Ukrainian officials announced that the Russian captain of the massive cruiser Moskva was among those killed in the strike.
Russian officials have said only that the Moskva sank Wednesday as it was being towed back to port in Crimea following an on-board explosion, which Russia’s defense ministry described as an accident.
But Pentagon officials say the evidence gathered so far backs Ukrainian claims that a salvo of two home-made Neptune missiles had scuppered the battleship, the Agence France-Presse news service and a number of media outlets reported Friday, citing a briefing by senior Pentagon officials.
A top Ukrainian official Friday also said that Anton Kuprin, the commander of the flagship vessel and of the naval deployment off Ukraine’s southern coast, was among those who died in the incident.
“First-rank captain, cruiser Moskva flagship commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Anton Kuprin died during the explosion and fire on board,” Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s ministry of internal affairs, said in a post on Telegram.
There was no confirmation from the Russian Defense Ministry of the latest claim from Kyiv.