A Russian non-profit group is crowdfunding for sailors who were wounded in a Ukrainian missile strike on a submarine belonging to Moscow’s Black Sea Fleet earlier this month.
The St. Petersburg Club of Submariners and Navy Veterans posted a public appeal asking for donations to assist the crew members of the Rostov-on-Don Russian cruise missile carrier who were injured in the September 13 strike.
Photos published by the Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT) on September 18 showed a gaping hole in the hull of the submarine , which was damaged in a missile attack on the Sevastopol Shipyard in annexed Crimea.
Officials didn’t say at the time whether there were casualties.
But the St. Petersburg Club of Submariners and Navy Veterans said in a post on Thursday that “there were casualties among the crew members who needed our help.”
“The Council of the Club of Submariners and Navy Veterans decided to begin collecting charitable funds. We will be grateful to everyone who is ready to provide real help,” it said.
The club said that as of 2 p.m. local time on Thursday, it had received 945,000 rubles ($9,750).
The council was formed in 1994 by several retired submariners as an independent, non-profit, voluntary society, which seeks to provide social assistance to active and retired naval officers and their families.
The crowdfunding initiative raises questions about payouts Russian President Vladimir Putin promised he would provide injured servicemen in the war.
A week into Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Putin pledged that injured men could claim compensation of three million rubles ($50,000 at the time), saying in March 2022 that it’s “our duty to support the families of our fallen and injured war comrades.”
But in April 2022, Russia’s defense ministry published a statement on its website saying that to be eligible for compensation, injuries sustained needed to be among those on an official list—a move that came as reports emerged that Russia was sustaining heavy casualties in battle.
Newsweek has contacted Russia’s Defense Ministry for comment via email.
In March, state-run media outlet RIA Novosti appeared to go off-message when it cited human rights activists as sounding the alarm over Putin’s presidential decree differing from the official list published by the defense ministry weeks later.
The outlet published a story titled “We didn’t expect this,” which featured interviews with frustrated soldiers who were injured while fighting in the war in Ukraine and didn’t receive the compensation promised by Putin.
Russia’s loss of the Rostov-on-Don removes one of the Black Sea Fleet’s four cruise-missile capable submarines, which have played a major role in striking Ukraine and projecting Russian power across the Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean.
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