Russia has granted Ukraine one favour recently – by donating a new Black Sea shipwreck attraction for divers to enjoy after the current war.
At least, that’s the view of a keen scuba diver who also happens to be Ukraine’s defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov. He has mocked the Russian invaders for the loss of their £575 million warship Moskva, which went down in flames on 14 April.
“A ‘flagship’ Russian warship is a worthy diving site,” Reznikov tweeted yesterday (15 April). “We have one more diving spot in the Black Sea now.” To underline his own diving credentials, the minister also tweeted an underwater photograph of himself with a turtle.
“Will definitely visit the wreck after our victory in the war,” he promised followers in his well-received post. “Btw, I already have 300 scuba dives.”
Ukraine reported that the Moskva exploded following a precision missile strike, although Russia, which can be relied on to offer an alternative version of any event, counter-claimed that a fire had broken out onboard unrelated to any Ukrainian action, with the ship sinking under tow after becoming unstable in rough seas.
The US government has since confirmed that fire had broken out on the Moskva only after it had been hit by two Ukrainian Neptune missiles.
The Moskva had already become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance. Early in the Russian invasion, a message from the ship had called on the nation’s troops on Snake Island in the north-western Black Sea to surrender – to be met with the response: “Russian warship, go f*** yourself!”
The defence ministry has also now tweeted: “Ukrainian karma: Feb. 24: The birth of the ‘Russian warship, go f— yourself’ phrase Apr. 13: President @ZelenskyyUa shows the new postage stamp featuring the phrase. Apr. 14: The warship Moskva addressed in the phrase sinks.”
The Moskva wreck’s depth has yet to be confirmed. The 186m guided-missile cruiser, named after the Russian capital, was launched 43 years ago and was the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
The ship is now a war grave – it is not known how many of her 510 crew died in the explosion and ensuing fire, though according to Ukraine’s internal affairs ministry her captain, Anton Kuprin, was among the dead.
There was already a Moskva wreck in the Black Sea. This was a Russian destroyer from WW2, sunk in 1941 and discovered at a depth of 45m by GUE divers 70 years later.
Also on Divernet: Mixed: Diving’s Reaction To Ukraine Invasion