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Neptune: Ukraine’s New Missile Sank the Biggest Warship Since World War II

Neptune Anti-Ship Missile
Neptune Anti-Ship Missile. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Here comes the Neptune missile: The Russian Black Fleet flagship, Moskva, which sank on Thursday, was hit by a new type of Ukrainian missile, according to a senior U.S. defense official who briefed reporters on Friday. Russia has maintained the Moskva was damaged in a fire.

The senior U.S. defense official said the ship was hit by at least one Neptune missile and that there are likely casualties — Russian authorities said the crew, believed to be around 500 sailors, was evacuated when a fire broke out and triggered ammunition explosions. The extent of the injuries and deaths is not publicly known.

This would be the first known use of the Neptune missile system and Ukraine’s most significant naval strike in the war against Russia.

The Neptune is the first domestically-made medium-range cruise missile for Ukraine, designed to be used against warships, like the Moskva. It is an update of the Soviet-era KH-25 missile — which could only be fired from ships and planes — modified to be fired from truck-mounted launchers at targets on land and sea. It has a range of around 200 miles and is mainly designed to target warships like cruisers and destroyers.

The final tests of the Neptune were carried out in late February, as the war broke out but Ukrainian officials were doubtful of the missile system’s readiness, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.  They had originally estimated the Neptunes would be deployed to coastal cities, like Odessa, by April 2022.

Russia has superior naval capability in the Black Sea, and officials hoped the Neptune might level the playing field by raising the cost Russia would pay for shelling Odessa and other vulnerable coastal cities.

Andriy Zagorodnyuk, former Ukrainian defense minister, told the Wall Street Journal that the Neptune allows Ukraine to “hit any target within our territorial waters.”

“Essentially, this is about being able to block the capabilities of the Russians if they try to attack,” Zagorodnyuk told the Wall Street Journal in February.

The Moskva is the largest warship to be lost in combat since World War II. The closest ship by size to the Moskva is the Argentine light cruiser General Belgrano that was torpedoed by a Royal Navy submarine in 1982 amid the Falklands war.

On Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry had claimed the flagship was still floating and that the cause of the fire was “yet to be established,” according to the state-run news agency TASS. Questions remain about the sequence of events that sank the ship, with speculation that the ammunition explosions may have breached the ship’s hull and led to flooding the crew couldn’t contain.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych praised the strike on Thursday on Telegram, calling it a “hugely important military event and the biggest defeat of the Russian Navy since World War II.”

Abbie Shull is a military and defense reporter at insider. She is based in Washington state. You can reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @AbbieLJ 

Written By

Abbie Shull is a military and defense reporter at insider. She is based in Washington state. You can reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @AbbieLJ

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. greenman

    April 18, 2022 at 5:25 pm

    Clever to call the missile, Neptune after the Greek God of the sea. This will give great fortune to the missile, in the event that the ancient God of the sea, received the naming of the missile in his name as a supplication, deserving of guiding the missile to those invaders harming the Ukrainian supporters of this great God of the sea.

  2. Illurion

    April 18, 2022 at 7:20 pm

    A missed opportunity.

    If i were Ukraine, within minutes of hitting the Moskva, i would have used more Neptunes to sink the other 8 russian ships in the Black sea to take out the rest of the 72 russian missiles they carry.

    The Moskva only took 16 of those 72 missiles to the bottom.

    The other ships carry either 8, or 4 missiles each.

    Take out the russian ships and their missiles. A 2 for 1 deal.

    Essentially eliminating the entire russian black sea fleet in revenge for the many tens of thousands of Ukrainians murdered by the russians so far.

    Like “Kahn” said in Star Trek, the “Wrath of Kahn”, “revenge is a dish best served COLD.”

  3. Illurion

    April 18, 2022 at 8:17 pm

    NOTE:

    the following link will take you to an article that is the FIRST to actually provide some proof of at least SOME survivors of the Moskva.

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10727703/Ukraine-war-pictures-Russian-warship-Moskva-sinking.html?ito=video_player_click#video

    The following is what a Russian mother says about what her Moskva sailor son told her:

    ………………………………………

    “Speaking about the sinking of the Moskva, one mother who spoke to Russian investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta – which is now operating outside the country having been gagged by Putin”

    the mother said:

    ‘I first heard from him only on 15 April, two days after the incident.’

    ‘My son said the cruiser was hit from the land, from the Ukrainian side, because the fire on board would not have started without a reason. There are people who were killed, wounded and missing.

    ‘My son called me as soon as they were given phones [after being rescued]. Their documents and phones were on the cruiser. He called me, and he cried over what he had seen. It was horrendous. Clearly not everyone survived.’

    She said: ‘Most of the wounded have limbs torn off, because of the explosions from both the missiles and the detonated ammunition. My son was crying when he called me on 15 April.

    ‘He said: ‘Mamochka (tender for mum), I never thought I’d get into such a mess during supposedly peaceful times. I won’t even tell you the details of what I’ve seen, it was so horrendous.’

    The mother said: ‘I don’t want to share his name because I am scared to damage my son. They signed non-disclosure agreements before boarding the cruiser. Please understand me, I am terrified. I am petrified, and I don’t know how I will wait for my son to return.”

    ……………………………..

    Hopefully, more such stories will come forward over time.

    But the mother does say that her son says the ship “WAS HIT FROM THE LAND, FROM THE UKRAINIAN SIDE.”

    That settles the issue. Neptune missiles beyond a shadow of doubt took out the Moskva.

    and all of Russia will know it soon, if they do not already.

    This mother was lucky. Her boy is alive. Over 20,000 other Russian boys are dead since Putin started this.

  4. Alex

    April 19, 2022 at 4:34 am

    There is a version that the Moscow cruiser was sunk by Neptur missiles with the help of the American Orion satellite. Bandera Nazis say so and believe in it.
    However, there is no evidence other than a heart-rending screech from the Nazis of Ukraine. Most likely, there was some kind of emergency situation that led to the decommissioning of the already old cruiser, which did not have a full-scale modernization. Of course, this is not pleasant for Russia, but the transition of the Russian Navy to small ships with hypersonic missiles on board will only speed up the entry of such ships into service.

  5. Illurion

    April 19, 2022 at 3:36 pm

    Russia will not survive long enough to transition.

    What is left of Russia will be absorbed by the Chinese.

  6. Christopher Arthur Fossetta

    April 19, 2022 at 5:14 pm

    Morons forgot about the Argentina ship BelGrano, and since when is one ship loss this ” significant ”
    British Navy lost 4 ships in the Falklands, didn’t change the outcome, bunch on snuff film and arm chair warriors who have no stones to do any fighting here.

  7. Alex

    April 19, 2022 at 11:06 pm

    Bandera Nazis predict the end of Russia for a hundred years soon. As a result, they reduce their population. We hope that this time Russia will destroy them all.

  8. CK

    April 29, 2022 at 1:56 pm

    lol, best of luck with that Alex!

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