A new video was released Tuesday showing the commander of the country’s Black Sea Fleet attending a video conference — a day after Ukrainian special forces claimed it had killed him in a missile strike.
In video and photographs quietly put out by the Russian Ministry of Defense, Admiral Viktor Sokolov appears to be remotely taking part in a meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and other top military brass.
The video was shown on Russian state television and reported on by the state-controlled news agencies TASS and Interfax, neither of which provided any information on when or where the footage depicting Sokolov was taken.
In response to the defense ministry’s purported “proof of life” video depicting Sokolov, Ukraine’s special forces said in a social media post Tuesday that it was clarifying information “regarding the destruction of the commander.”
“Since the Russians were urgently forced to publish a response with a seemingly living Sokolov — our units are clarifying the information,” the statement shared on Telegram read. “This is taking place as part of the procedure of collecting data on the results of the operation.”
The post also noted that some of the victims of the strike have not yet been identified because their bodies were in pieces.
Kyiv’s military said Monday it had killed Sokolov — one of Russia’s most senior naval commanders — along with 33 other officers in an attack Friday on the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in the port of Sevastopol that also injured 105 personnel.
Earlier Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had declined to comment on the Ukrainian claim, referring reporters to the defense ministry.
“No, there has been no information from the Ministry of Defense,” Peskov told reporters when asked to weigh in on Sokolov’s reported death. “This is exclusively their prerogative. We have got nothing to say here.”
Russia’s military confirmed the strike on the naval headquarters and initially said one serviceman was killed, but later claimed the person was missing.