Russian commander reported killed by Ukraine appears in video

Viktor Sokolov, commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and whom Ukraine claimed to have killed in a recent missile strike, appears in images distributed by Russia’s Defence Ministry. Screen grab from the Russian Defense Ministry/AFPTV

MOSCOW, Sept 26, 2023 (AFP) – The commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, whom Ukraine claimed to have killed in a recent missile strike, appeared in images distributed on Tuesday by Russia’s defence ministry.

Kyiv said earlier this week it had killed Admiral Viktor Sokolov and 34 officers in an unprecedented strike on the fleet’s naval headquarters in the annexed Crimean peninsula last week.

Sokolov was pictured in military uniform attending via video link a meeting held on Tuesday and presided by Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

The defence ministry released a statement, which did not name Sokolov, saying the meeting had taken place earlier in the day.

In an eight-minute video distributed later by the ministry, Sokolov appears on screen several times, without speaking.

The Kremlin told reporters moments before the statement was published that it had “no information” regarding the status of the commander and deferred questions to the defence ministry.

It had said on the day of the attack that one serviceman was missing, after having initially reported that one person had been killed.

The strike marked a major blow for Moscow, which has suffered a string of attacks on the strategically important port of Sevastopol in recent months.

Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014 and is a key military and logistics hub for Moscow’s military.