- Families of Russian sailors who served aboard the Moskva say they're being left in the dark about what happened.
- Parents of conscripted sailors say their sons were never "supposed to take part in hostilities."
- The Moskva sank last week after being hit by at least one Ukrainian missile, according to a senior U.S. defense official.
Families of Russian sailors who were onboard the Black Sea fleet flagship, Moskva, say the Russian Ministry of Defense won't say what happened to the estimated 500 crew members after the warship was hit by a Ukrainian missile and sunk last week.
Russian authorities claim a fire caused am munitions onboard to explode, but Ukrainian officials said the ship was hit by Neptune anti-ship missiles. On Friday, A senior U.S. defense official said the ship had been hit by at least one Neptune missile and there were likely casualties, although Russian authorities said the crew was evacuated.
Russian authorities have not disclosed the number of dead, wounded or missing sailors, but at least four families have publically said they have not been able to reach their sons who served aboard the Moskva.
The family of 19-year-old Andrei Tsyvova told The Guardian their son was a conscript.
"They didn't tell me anything else, no information on when the funeral would be," Yulia Tsyvova, Andrei's mother, told The Guardian. "I am sure he isn't the only one who died."
In early March, Russia was forced to admit it sent conscripted soldiers to fight in the war against Ukraine after Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed they were not involved in the attack.
"Unfortunately, some facts have come to light about the presence of conscript servicemen among the Russian armed forces conducting the special military operation on Ukrainian territory," said Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov.
"Practically all of the conscripts have been returned to the territory of the Russian Federation," Konashenkov said on March 9."Effective immediately, exhaustive measures have been taken to prevent conscripts from entering any and all combat zones, and to free captured personnel."
On social media, another parent of a conscripted sailor wrote that he'd been told his son is on the list of "missing" sailors.
"A conscript who was not supposed to take part in hostilities is listed as missing," Dmitry Shkrebets wrote. "Guys went missing on the high seas?!!!"
Shkrebets' wife, Irina, told the Russian newspaper The Insider she searched for their son in a military hospital in Crimea where she saw around 200 injured sailors.
"We looked at every burnt kid," Shkrebets told the Insider. "I can't tell you how hard it was, but I couldn't find mine. There were only 200 people, and there were more than 500 onboard the cruiser. Where were the others?"
Other families spoke under the condition of anonymity for fear they or their sons would be targeted. The mother of one conscripted sailor told the Novaya Gazeta Europe that about 40 people had died during the incident and many were wounded and missing.
"When my son called me on the fifteenth, he was crying. He says: "Mommy, I never thought that in a peaceful time, in principle, I would fall into such a mess. I won't even tell you in detail what I saw. It's so scary," the mother told Novaya Gazeta Europe.
Photos and videos show the Moskva burning before it sank into the Black Sea on April 14 and the Pentagon says videos showed some Russian sailors leaving the damaged ship in lifeboats, according to a report from the Washington Post.
—Alec Luhn (@ASLuhn) April 18, 2022