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Fact Check-Image of sinking vessel is from an incident in 2019 and is unrelated to damage to Russia’s Moskva vessel during 2022 war in Ukraine

An image circulating online said to show the sinking of a Russian vessel on April 14, 2022 is from a different incident dating to 2019. Social media users have taken a screenshot of a video from that year, flipped it and added a green filter. They claim it shows the aftermath of a Ukrainian attack on the Moskva, the flagship of the Russian Black Sea fleet but it has nothing to do with the vessel.

One user who shared the older image on Facebook said: “The flagship of Russian Black Sea fleet "Moskva" has been heavily damaged after Ukrainian attack and allegedly sank about 20 miles from Zmiinyi island soon after that. The irony is that this was the same ship that was recommended to "go fuck yourself" for 1 month ago, when capturing this same island. Slava Ukraini!” (here).

Another said on Twitter: “Photo of the fire at the #Moskva” (archive.ph/wip/54llR).

In both the above, the image shared is not of the Moskva.

Other examples of the erroneously captioned image shared to social media can be seen (here), (here) and (here).

The image is not recent, however, and instead was taken from a clip of an incident dating to 2019. The title of the 2019 video reads: “Gas carrier and tanker on fire in the Kerch Strait January 21, 2019” (bit.ly/3M27y0D).

In the misleading posts, a screenshot was taken at four seconds, before being flipped, and overlayed with a green filter. A comparison between the video uploaded to YouTube in January 2019 (left) to the altered screenshot (right) can be seen here (ibb.co/F4wqMkW).

The shape of the smoke funnel and the flash viewable in the screenshot matches with that seen in the 2019 footage.

On Jan. 22, 2019, Reuters reported that at least 10 crew members died and another 10 were missing and presumed dead after a fire broke out on two ships while they were transferring fuel in the Black Sea (here). Neither of the ships was the Moskva.

The video uploaded to YouTube was also featured in several news reports of the incident along the Kerch Strait at the time, including clips published by TIME and WION (bit.ly/3Ed7ubz), (bit.ly/3vaOSoE)

On April 14, 2022, Reuters reported that Russia said the flagship of its Black Sea fleet, the Moskva, was seriously damaged and its crew evacuated following a fire that caused an explosion onboard.

Maksym Marchenko, governor of the region around the Black Sea port of Odesa, said in an online post that the ship was hit by two missiles, without providing evidence. Reuters was unable to independently verify either account (here).

VERDICT

Incorrect photo. An image purporting to show the aftermath of a Ukrainian attack on the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, the Moskva missile cruiser, depicts a different incident in 2019 involving other vessels. The January 2019 video was covered by outlets at the time as showing two vessels that caught on fire while transporting fuel in the Black Sea.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.

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