There have been conflicting reports throughout the day about the cause of the explosion onboard the Russian warship Moskva, which has reportedly now sunk.
The flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet was being towed to port when “stormy seas” caused it to sink, according to a Russian defence ministry statement.
The 510-crew vessel was an important symbolic and military target, and has led Russia’s naval assault on Ukraine.
Ukraine claims it struck the warship with its missiles, but Russia has made no mention of an attack.
Earlier, Russia had said there was a fire on board after ammunition exploded.
Western officials have said that Ukraine’s claims to have struck the ship with a missile are the most credible.
As the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, the Moskva was a symbol – a symbol of Russia’s military might.
But crippled by fire and explosions onboard, the warship has now sunk.
The Russian defence ministry said it went down during a storm while it was being towed back to harbour.
Russia has not confirmed Ukrainian claims the damage to the vessel was caused by a missile strike on the ship.
The loss of the Moskva is a blow to the prestige of the Russian armed forces.
And it jars with President Putin’s claim, only two days ago, that what he calls his special military operation in Ukraine, is going according to plan.