On Monday Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces announced in a Telegram post that “the commander” of the Black Sea Fleet was among 34 officers killed in last Friday’s attack on the fleet’s headquarters in Sevastopol. The fleet’s commander is Viktor Sokolov. The statement claimed that he was killed, and that there were additionally “dozens of dead and wounded occupants, including the senior leadership of the fleet.”
But on Tuesday Russian television aired fresh images of Viktor Sokolov attending a meeting of military leaders, the day after Ukraine announced he supposedly died. “In video and photographs released by the Russian defense ministry and shown on state television on Tuesday, Sokolov is seen taking part in a video conference with Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and other top admirals and army chiefs,” Al Jazeera writes.
Admiral Viktor Sokolov, the commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, is apparently not dead, according to this photo released by the MOD today, despite Ukraine’s claims to have killed him last week. pic.twitter.com/ZJ3Bfbwzbf
— max seddon (@maxseddon) September 26, 2023
The defense ministry described that the meeting featured in the images took place earlier in the day Friday. Sokolov doesn’t speak in the footage, but is shown multiple times.
Ukraine has additionally claimed that there was a huge number of wounded – at 105. According to a Monday summary of the full extent of what’s being claimed by Ukrainian forces in The New York Times:
Ukraine’s military claimed on Monday that it had killed the commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in a strike on Crimea — a blow that, if confirmed, would be among the most damaging suffered by the Russian Navy since the sinking of the fleet’s flagship last year.
Citing “new information about the losses of the enemy as a result of the special operation,” Ukraine’s special operations forces said in a statement that the strike on Friday killed 34 officers, including the fleet commander, and wounded 105 others. It did not name the naval leader, but the commander of the Black Sea Fleet is Adm. Viktor Sokolov, one of the most senior officers in Russia’s Navy.
The attack came during a meeting of Russian commanders, Ukraine’s military said, and badly damaged a headquarters of the Russian fleet in Sevastopol, Crimea. The chief of Ukrainian military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, also told Voice of America on Saturday that the strike had badly wounded two senior Russian generals — Col. Gen. Aleksandr Romanchuk and Lieut. Gen. Oleg Tsekov. There has been no further word from either side on their condition.
But in showing Sokolov attending the meeting this week, it appears this Ukrainian claim has been officially proven false.
The Russian MOD released a video of top military officials meeting with Shoigu, including a short clip showing the commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Viktor Sokolov, appearing on video conference.
Ukraine claimed he was killed in a strike in Sevastopol last week. pic.twitter.com/xUO0a2xIP3
— Moshe Schwartz (@YWNReporter) September 26, 2023
Significantly, it was a large attack and severely damaged the HQ building in the Crimean city of Sevastopol. UK media has since confirmed that the Ukrainians used Storm Shadow missiles. However, the Russian side has remained tight-lipped about its potential losses. Initially Russian media said that only one service member was missing.