The United States assesses that the Russian cruiser Moskva is still battling a fire onboard but still cannot confirm what caused the damage, according to a senior US defense official.
The official also said that the ship is moving east, and the US assumes it will be heading to the port of Sevastopol for repairs.
The US has seen that other Russian ships in the northern Black Sea near the Moskva have all subsequently moved further south, according to the official.
Ukraine claimed to have hit Moskva with a missile, while Russia said the cause of the fire is still “being established” and that there is no “open fire” on the ship.
“We cannot confirm what caused the damage to the cruiser Moskva. We do believe that she has experienced significant damage. Our assessment is that she still appears to be battling a fire onboard. But we do not know the extent of the damage. We don’t know anything about casualties to her crew. And we cannot definitely say at this point what caused that damage,” the US official said.
“We hold the ship moving to the east. Our assumption is that she’ll be heading to Sevastopol for repairs. But that’s really all we can say. The only other maritime activity worth noting is that we did note that other Black Sea ships that were operating in the vicinity of her or in the northern Black Sea have all moved further south, in the wake of the damage that the Moskva experienced. So they’ve all, all of the northern Black Sea ships have now moved out, away from the northern areas where they were operating in,” the official added.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby echoed similar comments in an interview with CNN earlier Thursday, saying that “there was an explosion” on the Russian cruiser, but that the United States cannot assess at this point if the ship was hit by a missile.