A leading Russian TV presenter known as “Putin’s voice” has 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?
EPN/Newscom / Avalon)
“Explain me, why the hell you were in that particular area of the Black Sea, at that time?”
It sank after allegedly being hit by a Ukrainian missile.
The ship went down in the Black Sea on April 14 after Kyiv said it launched a rocket strike, although the Kremlin claims the vessel was destroyed in an accident.
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.
He accused Britain of choreographing the massacre in Bucha and claimed the horrors were staged and had nothing to do with Putin’s forces.
Solovyov’s 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 running 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.
Yesterday’s parade was overseen by the head of the navy Admiral Nikolay Yevmenov, 60, with Osipov nowhere to be seen.
Highly-paid Solovyov is sanctioned by the West and has seen his two Italian villas targeted by protesters.
The open air pool at one of his Lake Como retreats was filled with red dye to resemble blood. Paving stones and walls were also smeared red.
Graffiti reading ‘Solovyov killer’ was sprayed at the entrance, while his other villa was targeted with burning tyres hurled over the exterior wall.
The attack on the Russian Navy is in stark contrast to his earlier invective concerning the Bucha horror.
In this case, he told state-funded Rossiya 1: “It’s primarily the British who are working there. Apparently this whole provocation was planned by the British….”
The scene was contrived to send a message saying “look at the atrocities of Russian troops, here are civilians shot and killed”, he claimed.
“And the corpses are lying right along the road, but for some reason only one road.”
He warned Russian viewers that “we are blatantly being led to the Yugoslav scenario”.
He continued: “We are now being played the Srebrenica scenario. We will be accused of genocide very soon. Everything is being done for that.
“Now they are using a plot that is unfolding before our eyes.”
Seeking to divert blame for Putin’s forces, he also claimed that in Bucha “there was no permanent control of Russian troops – it changed hands all the time.”