VILNIUS - The sinking of the Russian cruiser Moskva is a major loss for this country's armed forces, as it was the largest military capability in the Black Sea Fleet, Lithuanian National Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas says.
"Russia has lost the biggest military capability it had in its Black Sea Fleet. (The significance – BNS) is extraordinary. Just imagine: 64 anti-aircraft missile launchers that could have been used at a distance of several hundred kilometers," Anusauskas told reporters on Friday.
He refrained to speculate what Russia's response to this loss might be.
"It is up to Russia to decide how it wants to respond: maybe it will ban smoking on ships, maybe it will respond in this way, or maybe it will launch cruise missiles at some civilian object, which is their usual response. I will not predict that", the minister said.
The Russian Defense Ministry claims that ammunition exploded on Wednesday on the Moskva, the flagship cruiser of the Black Sea Fleet, which took part in Moscow's war against Ukraine. The damage caused the ship to "lose its balance" while being towed into port and sink due to "rough seas".
Meanwhile, Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the military administration in the Ukrainian port city of Odessa, said the ship had been hit by a Ukrainian anti-ship missile Neptun.