The referenced Mail article gets most of its exercise by making YUUUUUGE leaps of assumption to get from A to Z.
1) A US P-8 was monitoring events from within NATO airspace on the Romanian Black Sea coast the day Moskva went all explodey.
2) Its detection range on ships is "over 100 miles" per the article. (Per the Navy, its radar can see Nimitz-class targets broadside from 222 mi. away. But Moskva is only a third of that size even from broadside, so the P-8's ability to see it would be appreciably much shorter range. IOW, it would have trouble picking out the Moskva at even 70 miles even under ideal conditions, let alone average field conditions.)
That's it. That's all the Mail knows, and from which it extrapolated (from somewhere deep in its underpants) the whole "US aircraft targeted Moskva for Ukrainian forces" fairytale. Which is how the sausage gets made.
Outright Lies In The Mail
1) Despite the Mail's recockulous claims, Russia has made no such "admission" that enemy action took out Moskva. Any such claim is pure bullshitting on their part.
2) The US Navy has made no admissions regarding supplying weapons targeting information to Ukraine, nor would they confirm nor deny any such thing, this side of anyone finding snowballs in Satan's underpants. The US hasn't even said it's supplying any intelligence information whatsoever, nor has any other NATO member. The is the dog that isn't barking.
1) No one (who's telling) knows exactly where Moskva was located when it exploded. Which is kind of vital.
3) That's a lot of blank blue real estate. 75 miles from Odessa to Sevatopol on a straight line puts it east of where the US Navy P-8 could probably even have detected it. 60 miles directly south of Odessa puts it at the edge of that possible detection range.
4) Neither the ship nor the A/C in question, before nor after the attack, was just sitting there like a duck in a bathtub, nor hovering stationary in the sky. Moskva was moving at anything between 10 and 30 knots. And presumably under some Russian variation of EMCON, to limit its electronic signature.
5) Ditto for the converted Boeing 737-800ERX that's the basis airframe for the P-8. Even at a slow loiter, it would be doing racetracks towards and away from the war zone, at anything near 200 knots (230MPH). Meaning within twenty minutes when headed away from point of nearest approach on the downstream leg, the Navy P-8 couldn't see Moskva even if it had beached itself on the tip of the Romanian coast. And at best detection location, it would be moving away a 4 miles/minute at least 50% of the time. (And realistically, any surveillance aircraft with squawk turned off isn't going to cut right up to the limit of the border of a nation that's an active war zone unless they want to try out their parachutes and life rafts. So figure they were already pulled back 10-20 miles for bare common sense reasons, which limits their target detection range even more.)
Speculation, Recockulous Speculation, And Wild ASSumptions
1) It's possible, and not unlikely, that the US and NATO are sharing some degree of intelligence with Ukraine. We stayed officially neutral in the Falklands War, but we were absolutely supplying satellite intel to Britain the entire time. It's presumptive that we're doing the same or similar with Ukraine now, though no one anywhere has admitted to any such thing. Nor will, for some years to come, unless they've got a hankering to see federal SuperMax prison from the inside.
2) It's highly unlikely we're supplying real-time targeting information, down to bearing and range, to the minute-of-cruiser standard, with any kind of near zero time-lag necessary to achieve hits. We have trouble doing that now between our own aircraft and our own troops on the ground. There's almost no way in hell we're doing it from the US Navy to the Uke Navy or ground command in real time, with the requisite degree of accuracy.
3) The ocean area of uncertainty in question is over 2000 square miles of flat blue water, 45 degrees apart from each other at the extremes. Surface-to-surface anti-ship missiles like the Neptune have a narrow cone of targeting success, and this on a target likely maneuvering at 20 knots or more. IOW, you could point one a mile or five off, and still get acquisition and hits. But you can't be shooting a missile from Scranton PA at Philadelphia, and get a hit on a target that's actually in NYFC, which is an exactly comparable degree of 1:1 scale.
4) Even if we were sending real-time intel, and dead-on balls-accurate targeting information to the Ukes at the speed of light to enable a successful attack, this is absolutely NOT tantamount to an act of war upon Russia.
a) US aircraft have been monitoring the situation since Feb. 25th. It's a little late to blow the rape whistle now, given the total dearth of any other such sinkings to try and prove a pattern. And you don't just wake up one day and decide to sink a cruiser, because somebody got a wild hare up their ass; neither in the US Navy, nor the Ukrainian defense forces. The very suggestion breaks the world record for the long jump by its very suggestion, and requires a level of inter-operability we have trouble pulling off with Canada or Great Britain in peacetime exercises, under ideal conditions, let alone with a non-NATO member amidst a war of survival.
(It might be exactly what happened, despite the extremely long odds against, and will make a fascinating never-before-revealed story in 75 years or so, but right now, on the merits, it's like inventing an entire dinosaur out of whole cloth after finding one bare tooth, or pulling globull warming out of your underpants, or Biden votes out of suitcases.)
b) Russia has categorically denied any enemy involvement on the conversion of Moskva from cruiser to submarine. No crime, no victim. QED
c) From 1966 to 1975, Russian surveillance "trawlers" sat 50 feet outside the coastal ADIZ of Guam, on a direct bearing from Andersen AFB to Hanoi, and radioed the departure of every B-52 headed to North Viet Nam, including heading and speed information, to give the NVA AA gunners and missileers exact time-of-arrival of US airstrikes headed to (then) North Viet Nam.
They did the same exact thing around the clock with trawler surveillance of every carrier sortie at Yankee Station launching air strikes from the ocean into the North for the entire duration of the war.
US pilots knew this 24/7/365, inclusive, for that entire conflict.
We lost 17 B-52s in combat over North Vietnam, and 102 aircrew killed, captured, or MIA, and literally hundreds of Navy and Marine Corps carrier-based aircraft were lost as well, with commensurately larger numbers of American aircrew killed, captured, or missing in action. At no point did anyone, anywhere seriously suggest that what the Russians were doing was casus belli, nor WWIII, nor did we increase our DEFCON level even one step in response. The Russians can eat shit on this: sauce for the goose is good for the gander. And they'd first have to trot out a new explanation for how their precious cruiser got all explodey, and then prove a causal link, which neither the USN nor Ukraine is inclined to hand them on a platter.
Short answer: Wild assumptions that any such thing took place are only missing one key thing: any evidence whatsoever to make it not only likely, but inevitable, that the story the Mail pulled out of their underpants is not only possible, but inevitably and necessarily likely.
None of that means Vlad isn't going to go all WWIII unhinged at any point (he'e pretty fucking far from sane as it is). But he'll have to be doing it out of pure unadulterated paranoia, without a shred of proof, nor even likelihood). But that's been the case every day since February 24th, and it says more about Puton's raging fulminant psychosis than it does about what's actually happened.
I don't just throw darts at a board to come up with this. That's analysis based on the facts in evidence. If you've got a counter-argument that's more than gainsaying, and not mined from pure-grade diaper spackle, trot it out, and let's see how it sounds.