MOSCOW (Reuters) – Viktor Sokolov, commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and one of Russia’s most senior naval officers, appeared on Tuesday attending a video conference, a day after Ukrainian special forces said they had killed him.
In videos and photos published by the Russian Defense Ministry, Sokolov appeared to be participating in a video conference with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and other senior admirals and army commanders.
The video was shown on Russian state television.
Ukrainian special forces said Monday that they killed Sokolov, Russia’s top admiral in Crimea, along with 33 other officers in a missile attack last week on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the port of Sevastopol.
Earlier on Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the Ukrainian allegation, referring journalists to the Defense Ministry.
In the video published by the ministry, Shoigu said that more than 17,000 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in September, and more than 2,700 weapons were destroyed, including seven American Bradley combat vehicles.
“The Ukrainian armed forces are suffering heavy losses along the entire front line,” Shoigu said, adding that the Ukrainian counterattack has not yielded results so far.
“The United States and its allies continue to arm the Ukrainian armed forces, and the Kiev regime is deploying untrained soldiers to slaughter them in senseless attacks,” Shoigu said.
The Ukrainian counterattack has not yet achieved significant territorial gains against Russian forces, which control about 17.5% of Ukraine’s internationally recognized territory.
According to a scorecard released September 19 by the Belfer Center at Harvard Kennedy School, Russia has gained 35 square miles of territory from Ukraine last month while Ukrainian forces seized 16 square miles from Russian forces.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge) Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Gareth Jones
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