Implications of sunken Russian missile cruiser are enormous

By Jeffrey Owens - Local History Writer

Editor’s note: Jeffrey Owens is a Jeffersonville native, a 1995 graduate of Miami Trace High School and 2000 graduate of Ohio University.

As a life-long history buff, Owens published Victory In Europe; A People’s History of the Second World War, a more than 700 page analysis of World War 2 in Europe in 2015. Since 2015, Owens has hosted more than a dozen educational symposiums on a variety of military history topics at the Grove City Library.

Once Russia invaded Ukraine, Owens applied his love of history and writing to the topic, and transformed his personal Facebook page into an educational blog about the war. Utilizing in-depth research and his knowledge of military history, Owens has provided a unique coverage of the war from multiple angles through his writing.

Owens is a resident of New Holland, is married and the father of two children. His son Luke is currently completing his freshman year at Miami Trace.

The following is Owens’ 12th Ukraine analysis entry published on April 16:

When the Russian missile cruiser Moskva sank on April 14, it not only descended into the depths of the Black Sea, but also into history as the world’s first combat naval ship to be sunk in forty years, as well as the largest warship to be sunk since the Second World War.

The Falkland War of 1982 was a 74 day conflict over a British held, but long disputed island along the southern tip of South America, which “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher sought to end. This conflict also sent the world’s first two naval ships to the bottom of the ocean since World War 2. On May 2, 1982 the Argentine destroyer General Belgrano was sunk by a British submarine, while two days later an Argentine anti-ship missile sent the British destroyer HMS Sheffield to the bottom of the south Atlantic.

Commissioned in 1983; with a length of 611 feet, a displacement of 12,490 tons, and a crew of 510, the Moskva was the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. She participated in multiple Russian military operations, including the battering of Georgia in 2008 as well as the “Snake Island” attack at the onset of the Russian assault on Ukraine.

Operating in the Black Sea off the coast of Odessa but following a predictable pattern, Ukrainian defenses tracked the ship and nailed it with two Neptune R-360 anti-ship cruise missiles on April 14. Anti-ship cruise missiles are “sea skimming” ordnances which can be launched land-to-ship, ship-to-ship or in some cases air-to-ship and are designed to destroy sea craft of various sizes. The R-360 Neptune is of Ukrainian manufacture, with a 300 pound warhead, a maximum range of 200 miles, and is designed to destroy ships with a displacement of up to 5,000 tons.

Once disabled by the Neptune missiles the Russian Navy attempted to tow the Moskva to the Crimean port of Sevastopol for repairs, but she sunk along the way. Although Russian media outlets claimed that the ship had suffered an accidental explosion, nearly all international observers of the war corroborated the Ukrainian version of the sinking. By the following day, however multiple Russian cruise missiles were launched throughout southeastern Ukraine, which Ukrainian Intelligence described as “revenge” strikes for the sinking.

The implications of this loss are enormous, not the least of which is the nearly $2 billion price tag to replace it, which Putin certainly can not cover while under crippling economic sanctions.

Additionally the Russian navy has been revealed overnight to have just as poor leadership and security as does the army, and has been forced to immediately alter its tactics. All ships will now patrol more than 200 miles off of the shore which although places then out of range of the Neptune, it also puts their own cannons out of range for shelling.

In a mockery of the Russian loss, a popular picture floating around Ukrainian social media shows a Bayraktar drone with a washing machine suspended under it hovering over the ocean. The caption reads that it was this drone with its unusual weight, size, and dimensions that distracted the Moskva’s defenses from the incoming Neptune missiles.

Whether the story is true is far less important than the morale boost it gives the Ukrainians and the insult it delivers to Putin; that the most expensive loss to date in this war, was brought about by $50 derelict washing machine.

Putin’s sheer arrogance of miscalculation is on full display to the world, and this war is on its way to go down as one of the greatest military blunders of all time.

Putin’s rage over Russia losing its empire with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia’s perceived loss of respect as a world power in the aftermath and the audacity of Ukraine to westernize and seek NATO membership drove him into a military aggression that he believed would collapse the Ukrainian government and resistance within days.

In just over fifty days, Putin has single-handedly transformed NATO from a borderline outdated league of states into a incredibly strong international body vexing its power throughout the world. Sweden and Finland, who have both long held their neutrality are plunging head first toward NATO membership.

If Finland joins, Putin will overnight find himself sharing an 830 mile coastline with NATO.

Exclusively through his own actions, Putin has turned NATO from a perceived threat, into the actual one that is now more powerful than it ever has been before, and expanding.

Increasingly frustrated by the flow of U.S. armaments into Ukraine, Putin’s government sent a diplomatic demarche to the U.S State Department during the second week of April, warning of “unpredictable consequences” if the shipments did not stop. This message was transmitted just after the first details of the new U.S. $800 million aide package to Ukraine which included much larger armaments than had previously been provided, such as heavy artillery and attack helicopters.

Putin’s demarche has so far not deterred any U.S. arms shipments, and it’s mere transmission reinforces how effective these weapons have in fact been against the Russian war effort. Putin would have had no reason to send the message if his armies were not hurting and his offensive stalled out.

Consumed with anger over multiple humiliations from losing the battle of Kyiv to failing in nearly every aspect of the war, western intelligence agencies collectively warn that Putin is becoming more desperate and unpredictable by the day. After the sinking of the Moskva, which undoubtedly infuriated Putin, a spokeswoman for the Ukrainian armed forces, Natalia Humeniuk, said that we all “…realize we will not be forgiven.” In a somber mood, President Zelensky revealed his concern in an interview that Putin may use weapons of mass destruction ranging from chemical to nuclear armaments. Zelensky however left his audience with the message that not just Ukraine, but the world should “not be afraid, but be ready.”

For more, the link to Jeffrey Owens’ blog is

By Jeffrey Owens

Local History Writer