Russian Black Sea commander shown on defense ministry TV as Kyiv said it killed him

Days after Ukraine claimed he was killed in a missile strike on Russian navy headquarters in Crimea, Russia’s defense ministry released a video interview of Black Sea Fleet commander Viktor Sokolov.

It was unclear whether the video was recorded before or after the Ukrainian missile strike on September 22.

In the video, Sokolov says the Black Sea Fleet is performing successfully. “The Black Sea Fleet is confidently and successfully fulfilling the tasks assigned to it by the command. The surface forces, the submarine forces, the naval aviation, and the front-line troops,” Sokolov said in the video broadcast on Zvezda TV which is run by the defense ministry.

Prior to this video broadcast, the defense ministry showed on Tuesday another video in which Sokolov appeared to be taking part in a meeting of the board of the Russian Defense Ministry via videoconference. Sokolov participated in the meeting via a video link.

Ukraine had launched a missile attack on the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea navy in the Crimean port of occupied Sevastopol on Friday. The Special Operations Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Monday that the strike killed 34 Russian officers, including the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Sokolov.

Ukraine’s special operations forces issued a statement on Tuesday reporting the death of 34 Russian officers due to the strike. However, they expressed the need to gather additional information to confirm whether Sokolov was among the casualties.

“Since the Russians were urgently forced to publish an answer with an apparently alive Sokolov, our units are clarifying the information,” Ukraine’s special operations forces said on Telegram.

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