The military “said the entire crew was evacuated. It’s a lie! A blatant and cynical lie!” Shkrebets, a resident of Crimea, wrote on VK, a popular Russian social media platform, on April 17, three days after the ship went down. “My son, a conscript, as the very commanders of the Moskva cruiser told me, is not listed among the wounded and the dead and is added to the list of those missing ... Guys, missing in the open sea?!”

It took the Russian military over a week to acknowledge that one serviceman died and two dozen others were missing after one of its flagship cruisers sank in the Black Sea, reportedly the result of a Ukrainian missiles strike, AP reports.

The acknowledgment happened after families started searching desperately for their sons who, they said, served on the ship and did not come home, and relatives are posing sharp questions about Russia’s initial statement that the entire crew was evacuated.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said Friday in a terse announcement that one crew member died and 27 were left missing after a fire damaged the flagship Moskva cruiser last week, while 396 others were evacuated. The ministry did not offer any explanation for its earlier claims that the full crew got off the vessel before it sank.

The loss of the Moskva, one of three missile cruisers of its kind in Russia’s fleet, was shrouded in mystery from the moment it was first reported early on April 14. Ukraine said it hit the ship with missiles. The Russian Defense Ministry would not acknowledge an attack, saying only that a fire broke out on the vessel after ammunition detonated, causing serious damage.

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