Russian state TV propagandists last night claimed that World War Three had already started in a furious chat show exchange after Ukrainian forces managed to sink Vladimir Putin’s Black Sea flagship, the Moskva.
Rossiya 1 presenter Olga Skabeyeva, who stuck to the Kremlin’s official line that the warship suffered a ‘fire’ despite heading a segment which blamed the vessel’s demise on Ukraine, said the ‘escalation’ could ‘safely be called World War Three’ and warned Russians ‘we are we’re definitely fighting against… NATO itself’.
Skabeyeva was joined by pundits who branded the sinking of the Moskva an ‘an absolute cause for war, 100 per cent’ and said there’s ‘nothing to think about, there has to be a response’ as they appeared to suggest Putin should use nuclear weapons on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv so Russia could ‘bomb them once and that’s it’.
A separate Russian state TV show Vremya Pokazhet last night claimed that the West was supplying ‘zillions of weapons’ to Ukraine and that, at the suppliers bidding, Kyiv was carrying ‘yet more provocations, bloody, horrible, completely unthinkable’.
Host Olesya Loseva told viewers that the West believes that ‘Russia is a country which is unworthy of even being on the world map and that all Russians should simply be wiped off the face of the earth’ hours after it was confirmed that the Moskva had sunk.
She also said Ukrainians were delighted to see Moscow’s troops in their country, waving the Russian tricolour and treating them ‘like real liberators’ in Kharkiv and claimed that Kyiv ‘not the Russians’ were carrying out a ‘genocide’.
Separate state-run Channel 1 ran comments by military commentator Dmitry Drozdenko who claimed ‘the West has long been preparing for the war’ and that Russia faces ‘a full-scale multi-level war’ against the ‘collective West’.
The flagship sank while being towed to port yesterday after suffering heavy damage under circumstances that today remained in dispute. Kyiv said it was struck with two Neptune cruise missiles fired by a coastal battery, which struck the port side of the vessel, causing it to roll over.
Russian military sources admitted the ship had rolled on to its side and caught fire after the blast, while US intelligence sources said the vessel suffered a ‘large’ explosion that left it heavily damaged before it sank.
Aside from providing Ukraine with a propaganda victory, Moskva’s sinking also has practical implications for Russia. As flagship, the vessel was likely tasked with coordinating the movements of other ships in the Black Sea which may cause further confusion among Russia’s already-strained command structure.
Its role was also to provide cover for Russia’s other ships using its anti-air missiles while they launched cruise missiles attacks against cities and military sites. Its loss will make them more-vulnerable to Ukrainian strikes, including by fast jets or drones.
Rossiya 1 presenter Olga Skabeyeva told viewers: ‘What it’s escalated into can safely be called World War Three. That’s entirely for sure. Now we’re definitely fighting against NATO infrastructure, if not NATO itself. We need to recognise that’
Vremya Pokazhet host Olesya Loseva said in a segment that the West was supplying ‘zillions of weapons’ to Ukraine and that, at the suppliers bidding, Kyiv was carrying ‘yet more provocations, bloody, horrible, completely unthinkable’
Rossiya 1’s Skabeyeva lamented that ‘ordinary Ukrainians’ are not ‘noticing any genocide… for some reason’ – but also claimed Kharkiv residents ‘are accusing not the Russian army of genocide, but the Ukrainian armed forces’.
The chilling statements came amid fears the Moskva may have been carrying nuclear warheads, as a Russian politician said more than 400 sailors could have gone down with the ship.
Today, Mykhailo Samus, director of a Lviv-based military think-tank; Andriy Klymenko, editor of Black Sea News; and Ukrainian newspaper Defence Express all warned that the Moskva could have been carrying two nuclear warheads designed to be fitted to its P-1000 ‘carrier killer’ missiles.
If true, the loss of the warheads into the Black Sea could spark a ‘Broken Arrow’ incident – American military slang for potentially lethal accidents involving nuclear weapons.
‘On board the Moskva could be nuclear warheads – two units,’ Samus said, while Klymenko called on other Black Sea nations – Turkey, Romania, Georgia, and Bulgaria – to insist on an explanation. ‘Where are these warheads? Where were they when the ammunition exploded,’ he asked.
Meanwhile Ilya Ponomarev, a politician exiled from Russia for opposing Putin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, said just 58 of the 510-strong crew have since been accounted for – raising the prospect that 452 men went down with the ship in what would be a bitter loss for Putin’s already beleaguered army.
The figure, while unconfirmed, is consistent with losses suffered on exploding warships. During the Russian Navy’s infamous defeat at the Battle of Tsushima against Japan, an explosion on board the Borodino – slightly smaller than the Moskva – saw all-but one of her 855 crew killed.
Russia claims all the Moskva’s sailors were ‘successfully evacuated’ but video taken in Sevastopol overnight shows dozens of cars purportedly belonging to the sailors still parked in the port – suggesting their owners had not returned to collect them.
Elsewhere today, rumours began circulating in Ukrainian media that Admiral Igor Osipov – the commander of Russia’s Black Sea fleet which the Moskva led – has been arrested in what would be the latest in a string of detentions linked to the bungled invasion.
Moskva could have been carrying warheads to fit into the tip of its Moskva’s P-1000 supersonic cruise missiles, which are designed to take out American aircraft carriers
Russian Telegram accounts with links to the Wagner Group claim Bayraktar drones were used to distract the Moskva’s radar systems before a coastal battery opened fire somewhere near Odesa, hitting the ship with two Neptune missiles
The flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet – the Soviet-era guided missile destroyer Moskva – has suffered heavy damage and may have sunk after Ukraine claimed to have shot it with two anti-ship cruise missiles
It emerged this morning that Moscow has lost another high-flying GRU military intelligence agent in Ukraine in the latest blow to the Kremlin’s ‘elite’ spy service.
Captain Alexey Bogomolov, of the 25th separate regiment of GRU special forces was reportedly killed in action. His funeral will be held tomorrow in Tambov region.
It follows the deaths of 31-year-old GRU agent Captain Alexey Glushchak in mid-March as well as Senior Lieutenant Anton Volkov, Captain Konstantin Druzhkov and GRU operatives Islam Abduragimov and Shamil Aselderov.
Separately, a video that emerged last week appeared to show multiple graves of recently killed GRU military intelligence special forces officers.
They were from the 10th Separate Order of Zhukov Special Purpose Brigade. The GRU is seen as Russia’s most secretive and – until recently – most effective service.
Britain says a GRU hit squad was behind the poisoning with Novichok of Sergei Skripal – who had defected to Britain – and his daughter Yulia in 2018.
In the Cold War, a GRU agent under diplomatic cover in London, Captain Yevgeny Ivanov triggered the fall of a Tory government after he seduced Christine Keeler, the lover of British war minister John Profumo.
The funeral of 31-year-old GRU agent Captain Alexey Glushchak, who was killed during the Russian invasion of Ukraine
It follows the deaths of Senior Lieutenant Anton Volkov, (right) Captain Konstantin Druzhkov and GRU operatives Islam Abduragimov (left) and Shamil Aselderov
Video that emerged last week appeared to show multiple graves of recently killed GRU military intelligence special forces officers. They were from the 10th Separate Order of Zhukov Special Purpose Brigade. The GRU is seen as Russia’s most secretive and – until recently – most effective service