Moscow, Sep 27 (IANS) The Russian Defence Ministry has published a video in which a commander of the Black Sea Fleet can be seen despite Ukraine’s claim that he was killed in an airstrike on the Sevastopol military headquarters in occupied Crimea on September 22, according to media reports.
The video issued by the Ministry on Tuesday showed man who resembles Admiral Viktor Sokolov appears to join a meeting with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and other Russian military leaders via video conference, reports CNN.
It was not immediately clear when the meeting took place or where Sokolov’s video appearance was filmed
The nametape on his uniform read Sokolov V. N. and his screen shows the Cyrillic letters “ЧФ”, the abbreviation for the Black Sea Fleet.
Also on Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to comment on the Ukrainian claim that Sokolov had been killed.
“There has been no information from the Ministry of Defence. This is entirely in their purview and we have nothing to say here,” CNN quoted Peskov as saying to reporters.
In a social media post on Monday, the Ukrainian Special Operations Forces had claimed that Sokolov and 33 other officers were killed in the missile strike, reports the BBC.
The Forces however, did not name the Admiral directly, nor did they offer any evidence that he had died.
After the Russian Ministry’s video was published, the Ukrainian side seemed to backtrack on its claim and said that they are now “clarifying” the reports.
“As it is known, 34 officers were killed as a result of a missile attack on the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation,” the BBC quoted the Forces as saying n a statement.
“Many (bodies) still have not been identified due to the condition of the body parts.”
Speaking to CNN on Tuesday, Ukraine’s new Defence Minister Rustem Umerov neither confirmed nor denied Sokolov had been killed in the strike.
“He (Sokolov) is in our temporary occupied territories … he should not be there at all. So, if he’s dead, it’s good news for everybody that we are continuing to de-occupy our territory.”
Russia appointed Sokolov as its new commander for its Crimea-based Black Sea fleet in August 2022, according to state media.
Sokolov had been serving as the Naval Academy chief since 2020. He served as the Northern Fleet deputy commander from 2013 until 2020.
The Black Sea fleet is a major symbol of Russia’s centuries-old military presence in the region, reports the BBC.
It was based in Crimea under a leasing deal even before Russia illegally annexed the peninsula in 2014.