The United States provided intelligence that helped Ukraine identify and sink the guided-missile cruiser Moskva, flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, U.S. officials said Thursday.
Ukrainian forces fired two Neptune missiles on April 13 at the cruiser, which caught fire and sank a day later as the Russians attempted to tow it to port.
The sinking of the ship was a major boost for Ukraine’s military in its fight against Russia, whose Black Sea warships have fired cruise missiles at Ukrainian cities since the war began on February 24.
The Moskva was about 60 nautical miles south of Odessa when it was hit, and its sinking caused a number of other Russian ships to drift away from the coast towards the Black Sea, officials said of the defense.
On Thursday, officials did not provide further details on the intelligence shared about the Moskva.
At the time of the attack on the ship, US officials told reporters they did not know how the Moskva was sunk, but later confirmed it was hit by two Ukrainian-made Neptune missiles. The Russian government said the ship was damaged when ammunition exploded following an accidental fire.
The 12,000 ton warship, which was over 600 feet long, would have had a crew of nearly 500 sailors. Independent Russian media said dozens of sailors died as a result of the sinking. The Kremlin initially claimed the entire crew had been rescued, but said late last month one sailor had died and 27 were missing.
The United States provided battlefield intelligence to Ukrainian forces, but was reluctant to detail the extent of that assistance to avoid escalating tensions with Moscow.
Earlier this month, the Biden administration expanded that cooperation to include targeting data on Russian military units in Russian-occupied Donbass and Crimea. The United States continues to refrain from providing intelligence that would allow Ukraine to strike targets on Russian territory.