The commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, declared dead by the Ukrainian military on Monday but purportedly shown in a video released by Moscow on Tuesday, appeared in another unverified video released by a Russian state TV channel on Wednesday.
The latest video, along with comments by the commander published in Russian news outlets on Wednesday, appeared to be a concerted effort by Moscow to end speculation over his status, even as Ukraine has maintained that it believes he was killed along with dozens of other officers in a strike on the Russian naval headquarters in Crimea last week.
In the undated video, published on Wednesday by Zvezda, a TV network run by the Ministry of Defense, a man identified as the commander, Adm. Viktor Sokolov, praises the Black Sea Fleet for “fulfilling goals that are set by the command.” A local news outlet in Crimea published its own account of the interview in which it says that Admiral Sokolov was responding to a reporter’s question about the Ukrainian strike. The article quotes Admiral Sokolov as saying: “What happened to us? Nothing happened to us. Life goes on.”
Separately, a state-owned newspaper, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, published an article saying that Admiral Sokolov had handed out an award to the Black Sea Fleet’s soccer team on Wednesday morning.