The Russian Defense Ministry released an image on Tuesday showing Viktor Sokolov, commander of the Black Sea fleet, participating in a video conference, after Ukraine claimed to have killed him.
• Read also: Killed Russian Black Sea Fleet Commander Ukraine Claims
In the photo, the official appears on a large screen, alongside other senior military officials attending a meeting chaired by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. A statement, which does not mention the officer’s name, indicates that this meeting took place on Tuesday.
The officer appears to have a large white cushion or armchair behind his back.
Fleet Commander #Russia #Black Sea Viktor #Sokolov participates in the Min Défense meeting 🇷🇺
For 4 days, the experts of @LCI “enjoyed” his death in Sevastopol with the 🇺🇦
By being friends with the Nazis
You are losing your humanity, dear journalists🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/r8oYWTJsEA
— Katya Lycheva (@karpov16) September 26, 2023
In a video released later, the commander appears in the image several times, without speaking.
Ukraine on Friday struck with missiles the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, a city in Crimea annexed by Russia. On Monday, the Ukrainian army said that among the thirty officers killed in the strike was Commander Sokolov.
Russia, which almost never gives information on its military losses, has for its part only given a report of one person missing following the bombing.
Moscow has not commented on this claim, with the Kremlin remaining very vague on Tuesday about the fate of the commander.
“There is no information on this subject from the Ministry of Defense,” Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson for the Russian presidency, told the press. “We have nothing to say,” he said. added, referring to the Ministry of Defense.
The attack on the Russian fleet headquarters illustrates Russia’s growing difficulties in defending itself from Ukrainian missile and drone strikes.
However, Crimea, a peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014, is key for the Russian navy as well as for the logistics and supplies of the troops occupying southern Ukraine.
Ukraine, which is leading a vast counter-offensive to liberate the occupied territories, is trying to strike the Russian rear to disrupt the defenses and the military’s ability to resist.
After three months, however, Ukrainian territorial gains remain limited.