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Russian Flagship ‘Remains Afloat’ After Munitions Explosion – Ministry

The Russian Navy's Black Sea flagship Moskva missile cruiser. Russian Navy Black Sea Fleet/TASS

The Russian Defense Ministry said Thursday its Black Sea flagship Moskva, which was involved in Moscow's military operation in Ukraine, is still afloat after a fire set off ammunitions explosions onboard.

"There is no open fire. The ammunitions explosions have stopped. The Moskva cruiser remains afloat," the ministry said in a statement. 

It added that the warship's "main missile armaments" were not harmed and its crew has been evacuated to nearby ships in the Black Sea. 

"Measures are ongoing to tow the cruiser into port," the ministry said. 

The Ukrainian military said earlier it had struck the Russian warship. The Russian Defense Ministry, however, said the cause of the fire was still being established. 

The Moskva — which with other vessels in Moscow's Black Sea fleet has been blockading the southern city of Mariupol — gained notoriety early in the war when it called on Ukrainian border troops defending the strategic Snake Island to surrender, only to be defiantly refused.

The troops in question were initially believed to have been killed, but in fact were taken captive. 

They were released as part of a prisoner exchange with Russia in late March, according to the Ukrainian Parliament. 

Ukraine's human rights ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova said the soldiers had described being taken to an unknown location where they were held in freezing conditions and suffered frostbite.

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