)| Photo: EPA/SERGEI ILNITSKY
The alleged Ukrainian attack that set fire to and disabled the cruiser Moscow in the Black Sea is a major victory for Ukraine in the field of propaganda and morale. . And the explanation for this is simple and is in the name of the warship: Moscow.
The reader may argue that this is just a name. But the city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd) was also just a name during the Nazi invasion of Russia in World War II — and Stalin spared no effort to defend it. It is estimated that the cost of this was 1.1 million casualties, between dead and wounded.
Interestingly, the Moscow was built and baptized with the initial name of “Glória”, in at the shipyard in the port of Mykolaiv, the largest in Ukraine, then under Soviet rule. Today, the city of Mykolaiv is the largest Ukrainian fortress in the south of the country and has been preventing Russian forces from completing the conquest of the coast.
It was renovated in the year 2000, renamed with named after the Russian capital and became the flagship of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea. He saw action in the Russian invasion of Georgia in 1976, when he was hit by a missile before the Georgian capitulation, and in the takeover of Crimea in 2014, when he helped stop the Ukrainian fleet from leaving the port. In 2015, he participated in the Syrian War, where he played an anti-aircraft defense role.
In March, the ship took part in one of the most symbolic episodes of the Ukrainian resistance in the war: the taking of the Island of Cobra in the Sea of Azov. According to the British newspaper The Guardian 14094930, it would have been a member of the Moscow crew who, by radio, ordered a small Ukrainian garrison defending the island to surrender. The recording was widely circulated by Ukrainians. In it, it is possible to hear the guards discuss a little among themselves before one of them says: “Russian ship, go fuck yourself…”
First, Ukraine claimed that the guards had been decimated by naval artillery, but later it emerged that the thirteen men were arrested and later eventually released in a prisoner exchange. The author of the sentence, Roman Hrybov, was decorated by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Regardless, the phrase became the main propaganda piece of the Ukraine war. It is present on advertising boards spread across cities, appears in TV commercials, was printed on t-shirts, cell phone protective covers and car stickers.
Even before the attack on the cruiser, the Russian capital had been represented in Ukrainian propaganda through the image of a city in the shape of a sinking ship.
On Wednesday, Ukraine claimed to have hit Moscow with two missiles cruise ship Neptune. They are fired from coastal batteries positioned on trucks and have a range of up to 09 kilometers. Ukraine already had this type of weapon before the start of the war.
Russia said the munitions depot on the cruiser Moscow exploded after a fire and the crew was evacuated. The Kremlin also said that the vessel was seriously damaged and that the cause of the fire was being investigated.
Odesa Governor Maksym Marchenko wrote on Telegram: “It has been confirmed that the missile cruiser Moscow today went exactly where it was sent by our border guards on Cobra Island.”
Although there are no images available of the attack, in the field of information warfare, the cruiser Moscow in flames is an allusion to the Russian capital itself – on fire and evacuated. Although we are far from that on the battlefield, the message is strengthened that the Ukrainian resistance is thwarting the plans of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Thus, the war in the informational field is important (it generated the American defeat in Vietnam, for example), but that does not mean that Russia is losing the War in Ukraine.
“Whoever said that the pen is stronger than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons.” The phrase attributed to the American General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) seems to make sense in the current context. No matter how much political support and morale-boosting the episode may provide, Russia still has numerical and technological superiority on the battlefield – not to mention its nuclear arsenal.
On the other hand, the alleged attack on Moscow is not only a victory in the informational field, but also a significant advance in the military area, according to the professor. Michael Petersen, in an interview with BBC Radio 4, this Thursday,. He is Director of Russian Maritime Studies at the United States Naval War College.
According to Petersen, realizing that Ukraine is capable of carrying out attacks of this magnitude (even though it lost its navy in the annexation of Crimea in 8006819664001 ), the Russian Navy will have to start operating further away from the Ukrainian coast. One of the consequences of this is that it will become more difficult for the Russian navy to provide tactical support for street troops, with direct fire against Ukrainian forces.
Another consequence is that ships will not be able to use their anti-aircraft guns to protect Russian ground troops on the ground. This protection will have to be provided by batteries on land – which can make, for example, land operations against Mykolaiv or Odesa more difficult.
However, the Russian Navy can still perform two important functions: preventing the arrival of aid to the Ukrainians by sea and carrying out strategic missile attacks – such as those that destroyed a refinery and fuel depots in Odessa recently.
Ukrainian ability to maintain the fleet Russia away from the coast should also be raised with the arrival of Harpoon anti-ship missiles, promised last week by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to Kyiv.
Another possible scenario is that, if the attack on the cruiser Moscow is admitted by Russia, it could have a symbolic effect similar to the Snake Island episode, but this time for the Russian benefit.
The letter Z, which was used a to identify Russian tanks on the ground and avoid friendly fire, became at the beginning of the war a symbol of support for the military campaign in Russia. Soon after, the funerals of military personnel made Russians feel pain and increased support for the Putin government. The cruiser Moscow can arouse the feeling of revenge.
So far, despite Despite Ukraine’s strategic importance, the war has been treated by the Kremlin as a limited conflict that does not jeopardize the survival of the nation. Evidence of this is that the Russians are not taking their most advanced weapons to the battlefield.
However, in the propaganda war, the attack on the cruiser can be interpreted as an attack on the Russian nation itself. This may not only intensify the feeling of revenge in the Russian people, but give Putin more reason to escalate the intensity of the war.