Ukrainian officials say their forces struck Russia’s flagship in the Black Sea with missiles, causing it to sink Thursday.
Russia said the ship was damaged but did not sink.
The Moskva is named for the Russian capital, Moscow.
If the ship did sink, it would be a major victory for Ukraine and a big loss for Russia.
Russia said a fire on the warship forced all crew members to leave but it was being taken back to a port. A spokesperson did not say the cause.
The ship carries 16 long-distance missiles. If it is not able to be used, it will reduce Russia’s firepower in the Black Sea while it is repaired.
Satellite images could not independently show if the ship was still afloat because of cloudy weather.
The news of the attack came at the same time Eastern European leaders gave statements of support for Ukraine. The country has been under attack by Russia since February 24.
Lithuania’s president Gitanas Nauseda said “the fight for Europe’s future is happening here.”
U.S. President Joe Biden recently approved $800 million in new military aid for Ukraine, saying: “We cannot rest now.”
The news of the damaged ship took attention from the fighting going on in the southern city of Mariupol. Russian defense officials said over 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers recently surrendered there.
But Vadym Denysenko, an interior ministry official, said that was not correct and his soldiers were still fighting.
The area of Mariupol is critical for Russia because it would connect Russian troops in the Crimean Peninsula with allied Russian fighters in the Donbas area in eastern Ukraine.
If the Moskva is damaged or sunk, it might hold back those efforts.
Ukrainian military advisers said the removal of the ship had “colossal significance” because it carries 16 long-range missiles.
Russia said a fire on the ship caused an explosion.
American national security adviser Jake Sullivan said he could not confirm Ukraine’s claims of damaging the ship. But he said it “is a big blow to Russia,” because it shows either a successful Ukrainian attack or a mistake made by Russian crew members that caused a fire.
“Neither is a particularly good outcome for them,” he said.
The Associated Press said it could not independently confirm the incident.
I’m Dan Friedell.
Dan Friedell adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on reports by The Associated Press.