Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, has been confirmed to have sunk near port of Sevastopol
Experts and analysts are now warning that the warship may have been carrying two nuclear warheads
They are calling for an urgent probe into ‘broken arrow’ incident – military slang for an accident with nukes
Meanwhile questions remain over the fate of Moskva’s 510-strong crew, most of whom are unaccounted for
Ilya Ponomarev, a politician exiled from Russia, said as many as 452 members of the crew could have died
Russia’s Black Sea flagship which sank yesterday after an explosion on board may have been carrying nuclear warheads, analysts and experts have warned today, as a Russian politician said more than 400 sailors could have gone down with the ship. The Moskva, a Soviet-era guided missile cruiser, sank near the port of Sevastopol on Thursday after Ukraine said it hit the ship with two cruise missiles. Today, Mykhailo Samus, director of a Lviv-based military think-tank; Andriy Klymenko, editor of Black Sea News; and Ukrainian newspaper Defence Express all warned that the Moskva could have been carrying two nuclear warheads designed to be fitted to its P-1000 ‘carrier killer’ missiles. If true, the loss of the warheads into the Black Sea could spark a ‘Broken Arrow’ incident – American military slang for potentially lethal accidents involving nuclear weapons. ‘On board the Moskva could be nuclear warheads – two units,’ Samus said, while Klymenko called on other Black Sea nations – Turkey, Romania, Georgia, and Bulgaria – to insist on an explanation. ‘Where are these warheads? Where were they when the ammunition exploded,’ he asked. Meanwhile Ilya Ponomarev, a politician exiled from Russia for opposing Putin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, said just 58 of the 510-strong crew have since been accounted for – raising the prospect that 452 men went down with the ship in what would be a bitter loss for Vladimir Putin’s already beleaguered army.