Russia tries to refute reports on Black Sea Fleet commander’s death

The Russian Ministry of Defence released a video of Black Sea Fleet Commander Viktor Sokolov taking part in a conference reportedly held on Tuesday, the 26th of September. The video emerged after Ukraine on Monday, the 25th of September, claimed to have killed him and 33 other Black Sea Fleet commanders in a missile strike on the fleet’s headquarters in occupied Crimea, reports BBC.
The eight-minute video released by the ministry shows a Defence Ministry board meeting reportedly held on Tuesday morning. The video shows Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu talking to senior officials in a Moscow conference room. Sokolov appears briefly in the video with the commanders of Russia’s five fleets, including the Black Sea Fleet, although

none of them speak during the video.

Sokolov was shown at a meeting with Shoigu. He connected via video link
The Ukrainian Special Operations Forces have said that they are clarifying the data on the death of commander of the #Russian #BlackSeaFleet Viktor Sokolov.
Earlier, the Ukrainian Special Operations Forces…
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) September 26, 2023

Facial recognition software indicates that other images of Sokolov and the man in the video match, suggesting that it is him. However, the BBC has not yet confirmed whether the meeting actually took place on Tuesday and whether the image of Sokolov in the video is real-time.

Ukraine now claims to be “clarifying” reports,

saying that 34 commanders were reported dead and due to the condition of the body parts, the identification of many remains, remains unknown. Ukraine backtracks on its previous claim, citing “open sources” that support the claim that the commander was among the 34 victims.
Ukrainian Defence Minister Rustem Umerov told CNN in an interview that if Sokolov had died, it would be “good news for everyone”, although this has not been confirmed. This change of tone suggests some uncertainty after Monday’s reassuring statements. There is a possibility that Ukraine acted on intelligence and targeted an important meeting in the occupied Crimea.
The significance of last Friday’s strike should not be underestimated. However, if Ukraine has exaggerated its achievements, that would be

a reckless mistake in this ongoing information war.

Last Friday, the 22nd of September, Ukraine claimed to have hit the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet, which is considered to be the Russian navy’s important target for Ukraine. Footage posted on social media showed clouds of smoke rising from the building.

⚓️ As evident by the white smoke over the black sea fleet’s HQ, the Russian navy seems to have elected a new admiral.
— Astraia intel 🇺🇦 (@astraiaintel) September 22, 2023

Russia claimed to have intercepted five missiles during the attack and reported one soldier missing. Recently, Ukrainian forces have been attacking Russian forces deployed in Crimea on an almost daily basis.
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