Russia appeared to quash Ukrainian claims of Kyiv taking out one of its main navy commanders. Footage released by the Russian defence ministry showed Viktor Sokolov, the commander of its Black Sea fleet, attending a defence board meeting via video call.
Ukraine claimed a day earlier that it eliminated Sokolov in an attack on the Black Sea Fleet’s headquarters in Sevastopol. Sokolov was in attendance with Russian defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, and senior admirals and army chiefs, the Guardian said in a report.
Ukrainian special forces on Monday claimed to have killed Sokolov. Sokolov is Russia’s top admiral in Crimea. Ukraine also said that it killed 33 other officers in a missile attack last week that was timed to coincide with a meeting of naval officials.
The Kremlin said on Tuesday it did not receive any information about Sokolov’s death from the defence ministry. The defence ministry on Tuesday released a statement not naming Sokolov and said the meeting took place earlier in the day. Sokolov appears on screen but does not say anything.
Ukraine’s military did not specify how they counted the dead and the wounded people in the attack. Ukrainian intelligence head, Kyrylo Budanov, while speaking to Voice of America, claimed that Ukraine killed nine people and injured 16 others when it struck the Crimean base.
Budanov claimed that Alexander Romanchuk, another top Russian general, who is commanding forces along the main south-eastern frontline was badly wounded in the attack. He did not mention Sokolov.
Ukraine and Russia have exaggerated enemy losses since the onset of the 2022 Russo-Ukrainian war. They have also been silent about their own casualties. The Guardian report surmised that Moscow will not be able to conceal the death of Sokolov due to his seniority for a prolonged period.
Sokolov was appointed as a commander of the Crimea-based Black Sea fleet in August last year. His task was to strengthen Russian defences in Crimea after Ukraine targeted the annexed region last summer.