UPDATED Apr 17
OSINT Suggests Around Half Of Moskva's Crew Killed Or Injured
The Russian Ministry of Defense released a video showing a parade of the Moskva's crew. This follows the loss of the Russian Navy's Black Sea Fleet flagship, reportedly to Ukrainian missiles, on April 13/14. It makes sober watching.
Analysis of the footage suggests that approximately 240 crew members were present. This is out of a crew of around 510.
The video, shared on Facebook and Twitter, says that the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, Admiral Nikolay Evmenov, met the crew. Also present at the meeting in Sevastopol was the new 'command of the Black Sea Fleet'. I have geolocated the event to a parade ground at 44.564798°, 33.416280°.
Like other parade grounds associated with the Russian Navy there are formation markings on the ground. These are visible in satellite imagery and aid estimation. Based on analysis of the photographs I estimate around 90 officers and warrant officers and 130 enlisted personnel were present. This assumes two ranks of equal numbers. Caveats apply, I am sure there will be alternative estimates. But the figure is in the ballpark of half the crew.
Some crew may be injured of course, and we can be confident that some died. Additionally, there were reports of some being rescored by Turkish or other 3rd country ships. If so, they too may not be present (I haven't confirmed either way).
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Moskva caught fire some time before 18:52 local time on April 13. At this time she was seen on Sentinel 1 satellite imagery with other ships already providing assistance. The cause of the fire is disputed, but reports of a Ukrainian missile attack are plausible. Whatever the cause, it seems clear that she exploded and that she has sunk.
Inconsistencies in video
There is a suggestion that the video is of a prior event. Most tellingly, a person closely matching the ship's captain, Anton Kuprin, is seen. He is wearing the rank of Captain 1st Rank and acting in the position of command. Kuprin has widely been reported as dead, killed in the explosion.
Note that in a file image, widely circulated, Kuprin is shown as a Captain 2nd rank. Evidence suggests that he was promoted in 2020 or earlier.
The loss of such a large portion of the crew is not unexpected. In fact many expected more killed.
It is possible that the parade was not exactly as it has been portrayed. However I do think that it is believable that it is a complete sham. Not least, if it were, then more sailors should have been present. All parades look staged. So it may be exactly what it says it is.
However it is possible that reports of his death were incorrect. Note that a truck with the infamous 'Z' shape marking is seen in the background.
Overall, it seems more plausible that a) Kurpin survived and b) more of the crew survived than are popularly speculated. It is still a shocking loss for the Russian Navy in both personnel and equipment.
I am adding these notes as at the end as many people will have already read the above.
This is an emotive topic and layers of misinformation (both organized and casual, from both sides) has eroded people's confidence in any official Russian statements. We must not let emotion or agenda cloud the analysis.
New evidence of parade. Since posting this analysis, I have seen satellite imagery taken by Planet which shows a parade at the same location on April 15. It's copyrighted so not posting it here, but it shows a similar body of personnel on the opposite side of the parade ground to the video. And it is later in the day (the video is around mid day).
It is therefore possible that either the parade was on the 15th, or it is some form of rehearsal. Or a previous or unrelated event. Taken alone, this can be spun either way by those with an agenda. But it broadly supports the view that the parade likely occured after the sinking.
I believe that other satellite providers may also have caught this.
Re assumptions on how many survived. All reports of rescues, and theories of how fast she blew up or sunk need confirmation. We do know, from the analysis I did of SAR imagery for Naval News (image above), that at 18:52pm local time on April 13 Moskva had several vessels nearby. Some sailors being rescued does not seem unreasonable at this point.
Re weather, the weather in the video of the parade is broadly consistent with Sevastopol over the past few days. There are easy to find satellite images of the parade ground which demonstrate this. Note also the foliage including, it possibly, a blossoming tree.
Re Captain Kuprin. There is no serious doubt that it is him. Facial features, including a disinvite feature on his left cheek, match.
Re composure of the crew. No comment, I am uncomfortable making assumptions there. History is full of people reacting differently to traumatic situations. Royal Navy sailors aboard a damaged warship in the Falklands reputably singing Monty Python's Always look On The Bright Side Of Life.
Re uniforms. Not much to say here either, they are wearing standard jackets which cover a lot. And are possibly quite hot. But they are of course wearing whatever they are told to wear for the event, that's how parades work.
Location. The barracks where the parade took place are not normally associated with the ship's crew (to be confirmed). Instead it is for the Naval Infantry. They are also on the opposite side of the port to where Moskva normally berths. So it appears less likely as a location for a parade before the voyage. Instead we might expect a pre-voyage parade on the piers. However, the naval infantry may be deployed and the barracks empty. This circumstantially supports the suggestion of a post-sinking parade, with the sailors temporarily housed there.
Admiral's shirt. In the longer version of the video Admiral Evmenov gives an interview for the camera. Based on his comments, this is clearly after the sinking.
At this point the Admiral is wearing a shirt instead of the overcoat in the earlier part of the video. This has led to speculation that it is from a separate event, i.e. that the parade portion was from an earlier event. However, he does appear to be wearing a matching shirt under his coat in the earlier portion. It seems possible that the Admiral simply took the jacket off between the two points in time.
Geolocation of Interview
The interview portion is filmed in the same parade ground but in a different part and later in the day (based on shadows). The fact that it is the same base adds credibility. There would be easier ways to fake it.
One suggestion is that the footage used in the Russian report is from a pre-voyage parade. I do not think that this can be disproven. The weather and timing match.
If Kuprin is confirmed dead, this will answer it.
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