By Anjan Roy
The sinking of the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea flotilla MOSKVA is a significant turning point in the Ukraine war and also a lesson for military planners across the world.
Russia does not yield the point that Ukrainian missiles would have downed the ship and maintains that an accidental fire on board had damaged the structural balance of the ship which had tilted as a result in rough seas. The battleship now sunk was utilised for ill purposes by the Russians and had played a critical role in several piquant situations.
Maybe, in future the sinking of such a ship will be compared with the sinking of The Bismarck in course of the Second World War. “The Bismarck” was the vaunted emblem of German naval strength in the Sound War.
Close on eighty-one years, the Bismarck was sunk on May 27, 1941, by the British Navy which was driven to desperation by he depreciations of the Bismarck in association with another feared member of the German Navy, the Price of Oregon.
The Bismarck was able to dominate the north Atlantic sea routes which brought essential supplies to a beleaguered Britain. From food to munitions, the British was bringing their provisions from across the Empire and United States in convoys of ships which were hunted down by German U-boats and the Bismarck being present to guard their operations.
What the Bismarck was able to do was to besmirch then reputation of the British Navy as the ultimate protector on the high seas for all allied vessels. So serious was the situation that from Winston Churchill to the first lord of the admiralty the top priority of the British was to track down the Bismarck in the vast north Atlantic waters and put her down.
Then in May, the British had despatched a series of reconnoitering missions to find out the exact locations of the Bismarck. British Navy’s most prestigious ship, HMS Hood, had come far to face with Bismarck along with HMS Norfolk. For the British it was a shattering blow that the Hood, the invincible, received fire room the Bismarck and just split into two. However, Bismarck also was hit and its oil tank began to lose. That left a trail of Bismarck.
On the fateful day, the Bismarck met with HMS Rodney, an old battleship and the HMS King George Five, a brand new ship, which began pounding the Bismarck. They were soon joined by HMS Victoria, an aircraft carrier. The last did the ultimate trick and dropped bombs on the vulnerable upper decks which led to severe damages leading to the sinking of the Bismarck.
Such was the importance of the event that the Royal Navy celebrated the event and the first lord of the admiralty had immediately addressed the Navy fighters, admitting how powerful and great a ship Bismarck was. With the sinking of the Bismarck, the North Atlantic sea routes were again available to the Allied Forces.
The sudden sinking go the Black Sea fleet’s flagship, Moskva, had dismayed the Russians. Moskva was so important that it could deployed only on orders of the Russian President. Picking up the strands after the sinking of the ship, the official Russian TV channels have stated that the Third World War has already begun.
Ukraine President, Vladimir Zelensky had stated in formal interviews that he did not discount a possible Russian pre-emptive nuclear strike. He urged the world to take note of the threat of nuclear attack.
Russia has resumed hitting areas around Kyiv with missiles. Ukraine expects Russia to substantially step up its attacks on Ukraine targets in the wake of the sinking of the flagship of Back Sea command.
No doubt, the loss of the ship is a deep dent on Russia’s prestige and personally that of Vladimir Putin. The Russian autocrat will now try to seek revenge with redoubled attacks on Ukrainian positions.
Moskva, the 12,500 tonnes guided missiles cruiser was a power statement for the Russian navy. The ship was earlier deployed during Russia’s Syrian campaign for overseeing its security needs on the coast and for missiles use inland.
Later, an irate Vladimir Putin has sent the ship to Black Sea areas when Turkey had downed several Russian military aircraft. It moved along with a flotilla of other ships which together made a real presence in an area and capable of multifarious tasks.
Moskva was fitted with anti-ship, anti-aircraft missiles pads, apart from torpedoes for use against submarines. It had a speed of 32 miles and it was 600 feet long. A ship of this class last destroyed was during the Falkland war off the coast of Argentina when HMS Destroyer had sunk the General Belgrade on May 2, 1982.
The ship had 510 crew on board, and so far it is not clear how many might have perished along with the ship. Given the firepower of the ship, it would have a very large stockpile of explosives o board and the fire from a missiles strike could have ignited the anger part of the explosives. This could have altogether destroyed the ship.
To have sunk such a immensely costly military hardware, a floating fort, is a feather on Ukraine’s operational capabilities. The ship was reportedly struck by a Neptune anti-ship missile of Ukraine. The ship had directed the missiles strikes on the coastal cities of Ukraine and had delivered heavy damages.
Neptune class missiles have not so far been regarded as having adequate firepower. However, the sudden sinking of the massive ship really shot up the effective of the Neptune class missiles. Ironically enough, Moskva was built in Ukraine during the days of Soviet Union and entered service in early1980s.
In their triumph, he Ukrainians have said the sinking of this ship is a small retribution to Putin for killing Ukrainian children and women.
Questions are being raised that despite air defence and missiles defence systems on board how could the ship have been struck by a missile from the Ukrainians. These issues raises questions about deployment of such larger ships in war conditions.
Apparently, USA had moved some of their ships away from the Chinese coats where they come under the firing range of on shore anti-ship missiles bases of China.
The reverberations of the Ukraine war are already been seen across the war. China is sending its latest jet fighters all over the disputed waters in the South China Sea. China is seeing its opportunity of asserting its authority when apparently USA and western allies are deeply engaged in meeting the threat from Russia. (IPA Service)