Where are our sons? Fury grows amongst the families of the Moskva’s crew as they demand answers over how many were killed when the pride of Russia’s fleet ‘was struck by Ukrainian missiles’ amid claims of a cover-up

  • Family of the Moskva’s crew are demanding answers over their missing relatives
  • Moscow has claimed almost all of the 510 crew members were saved
  • Despite this, family members are claiming deaths on the ship are being covered up by Putin

The anguished parents of sailors ‘missing’ after missiles struck a Russian warship have demanded of Vladimir Putin: ‘Where are our sons?’

They want the Kremlin to admit how many died when the Moskva sank amid claims of a cover-up last night.

Moscow insists almost all the vessel’s 514 crew were rescued.

Yegor Shkrebets, 20, a conscript who went missing after the Moskva cruiser death. Posing with his father Dmitry Shkrebets.

Yegor Shkrebets posing with other sailors at Moskva cruiser, 4 days before the ship sank. Among them is another missing conscript, Mark Tarasov, 24

Russia has remained tight-lipped about the fate of Moskva’s crew, but on Sunday released this footage which it claimed showed the ship’s complement on parade in Sevastopol

Anton Kuprin (left), captain of the Moskva, salutes Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov, the commander in charge of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet which the vessel led as the flagship

Footage showed the ship’s captain – Anton Kuprin (centre) – parading in front of his men, which were estimated to number between 150 and 250. Moskva typically carries up to 510 men, and Russia did not say what had happened to them

2014: Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen on-board the Moskva with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi

As a dramatic video and images emerged last night showing the warship on fire following the attack, Kremlin officials also released footage of a supposed ceremony for survivors.

But the clip appears clumsily doctored, with the same sailors seeming to appear multiple times and the tree foliage suggesting the film was made at a different time of year. Yesterday, at the risk of being censured or even arrested, desperate parents of crew members broke their silence.

They fear the death toll from the Moskva is at least 40 and could be much higher. Western military sources have suggested it could be in the hundreds.

Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles fired by Ukraine struck the ship’s port side, targeting her engines and starting a propellant fuel fire.

The first image of the guided missile cruiser Moskva of the Russian Navy that sank on April 15

The images show what appears to be damage to the left-hand side of the vessel close to the water line, smoke and fire damage along its left-hand side, missing lifeboats and open helicopter bay doors – suggesting the aircraft has taken off. A rescue ship also appears to be behind the stricken ship, spraying water jets

Moscow says a fire onboard caused ammunitions to explode and the vessel sank as it was being towed in a storm

Moscow, however, says a fire onboard caused ammunitions to explode and the vessel sank as it was being towed in a storm.

The ship was the Russian Navy’s command and control centre in the Black Sea, coordinating missile strikes on cities in southern Ukraine. Huge plumes of black smoke can be seen towering above the listing vessel following Wednesday morning’s attack. She sank later that day.

Irina Shkrebets, whose son Egor was a chef, described searching hospital wards crammed with severely burned sailors. She said: ‘I looked at every burnt kid. I can’t tell you how hard it was, but I couldn’t find mine.

‘There were only 200 people [in the hospital] and there were more than 500 on the ship. Where were the others? I asked a navy commander for information but he said, “I won’t tell you anything”.’

Moskva (pictured last leaving port on April 10) got into trouble on April 14 while sailing around 60 miles off the coast of Odesa – Ukraine’s largest port – before Moscow confirmed she had sunk on April 15

Mark Tarasov (left), 24, a Russian conscript who went missing after the Moskva cruiser was sunk last week. He is seen here posing with his mother Ulyana and father at the railway station, when he left for the service

Moskva was a Soviet-era guided missile destroyer that was designed to taken on US aircraft carriers with large amounts of anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles

Egor’s father Dmitry said his son was a conscript who should not have been sent to a warzone and vowed to dedicate his life to discovering what happened.

He said: ‘The cruiser’s commander and his deputy stopped communicating after my attempts to clarify the details of the incident. I asked them directly, “Why are you officers alive and my son, a conscript, has died?” I ask everyone who is not afraid, not indifferent, to spread this appeal of mine.

‘A man whose son was taken away in such a vile way is not afraid of anything.’

The mother of another sailor said many crew were listed as missing, rather than dead, to spare the Kremlin embarrassment over losing so many personnel. She said: ‘There are dead, there are wounded, there are missing. My son was crying when he called me to say what he saw. It was terrifying. Clearly not everyone made it alive. A lot have lost limbs.’

A Russian TV presenter also raised questions about the Moskva. During his prime time show Vladimir Solovyov said: ‘Explain to me how you managed to lose it. Why did your fire extinguishers not work? The ship burned from the inside out.’

Last night, former Royal Navy officer Rear Admiral Chris Parry said the Moskva had not been ‘properly prepared for action’ and suggested the internal fire could have been contained.

The absence of the ship’s life rafts and the positioning of its crane in the footage indicate rescue boats were launched. The missiles hit the Moskva amidships, destroying her propulsion and electrical power systems. These compartments would have given off the largest radar ‘signature’.

As the warship was constructed in Ukraine, its attackers may have been able to study its schematics. Her sister ship, laid up at Mykolaiv port, shares the same layout.

‘How the hell did you allow the Moskva to be sunk?’: TV anchor dubbed ‘Putin’s voice’ rages at Russian navy 

A leading Russian TV presenter known as ‘Putin’s voice’ expressed cold fury at the sinking of the Black Sea flagship Moskva.

It appeared that Vladimir Solovyov was articulating the Kremlin leader’s own anger when he launched a full-frontal attack on the Navy in a nationwide broadcast.

‘I am furious about what happened to the Black Sea Fleet’s flagship, Moskva,’ said the state TV anchor, sanctioned for his links to Putin.

‘I am simply furious.’

‘And yes, we say it was quite old, and went through repairs and, yes, this series of ships has vulnerabilities.

‘I get it.

‘But tell me this: how did you manage to lose it Explain me, why the hell you were in that particular area of the Black Sea, at that time?’

The loss of the Moskva is the biggest single humiliation for the Russian war effort in a campaign that Vladimir Putin hoped would see Ukraine roll over and submit to his hegemony in a matter of days.

Solovyov raged: ‘And I don’t care what exactly happened – if indeed [it was] the two Neptune missiles as the Ukrainians said.

‘Anyway, since when was a combat ship scared of a missile strike, since it has a defence system?

‘So, was something not activated?

‘Okay. Even if it was hit with two missiles, and it ignited the ammunition…

‘What happened to your fire fighting system?’

His rant contrasted with recent Sunday evening where he has lauded the Russian war machine and heaped blame on the West, for example accusing Britain of choreographing the massacre in Bucha, claiming the horrors were staged and had nothing to do with Putin’s forces.

His blast echoes other whispers that Putin was left incandescent by the loss of the Moskva.

The Kremlin went into denial over the sinking and it is still unclear how many perished, with estimates that it runs into the hundreds.

Footage of some of the ‘rescued crew’ lining up on a Sevastopol parade ground – broadcast on Saturday – failed to clarify the matter.

It showed perhaps 150 sailors, including an officer who closely resembled 1st rank Captain Anton Kuprin, commander of the Moskva, who the Ukrainians claimed had been killed in the sinking.

Yet the date the Defence Ministry footage was filmed was unclear.

So too was the fate of sailors not present from a crew which is believed to number 510.

Solovyov appeared to have been given license to hit out at the navy – indicating that the Kremlin is seeking to find a culprit for the catastrophic loss of the cruiser.

There are suggestions that Vice Admiral Igor Osipov, commander of the Black Sea Fleet, has been detained or suspended over the loss of the flagship.

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