Viktor Sokolov, Russian admiral claimed to have been killed in Ukrainian attack, appears in video interview
The Russian admiral whom Ukraine forces said died in a strike on occupied Crimea last week has appeared in a video posted by a Russian military channel Wednesday – the second video released in as many days which has cast further doubt on Kyiv’s claim.
Viktor Sokolov, commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, was asked by a reporter in a video about the missile strike on the fleet’s headquarters in Sevastopol, which Ukraine said had killed him.
“The Black Sea Fleet is carrying out the tasks set by the command confidently and successfully,” Sokolov said in the video posted by Zvezda News, the media outlet of the Russian military on Telegram.
The video was published Wednesday, however CNN cannot verify the date the interview was carried out. There are few details within the interview that reveal its time or location.
In the video, Sokolov also referred to the “Order of Ushakov” award given to Russia’s 810th Marine Brigade. This award was given on August 29th, according to the Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhaev.
The interview was published a day after the Russian defense ministry published a video that also appeared to show Sokolov participating in a meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and other Russian military leaders.
In the Russian footage published Tuesday, a man resembling Sokolov appeared to join the meeting via video conference. The nametape on his uniform reads Sokolov V. N. and his screen showed the Cyrillic letters “ЧФ,” the abbreviation for the Black Sea Fleet. CNN could not confirm this is Sokolov, when the meeting took place or where his video appearance was filmed.
The Kremlin initially refused to confirm whether or not Sokolov was alive. “There has been no information from the Ministry of Defense. This is entirely in their purview and we have nothing to say here,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday.
But, by the next day, the messaging had changed, with Peskov confirming that Sokolov had attended the defense ministry meeting.
“Yesterday we spoke about the fleet commander. He took part in the meeting,” Peskov told reporters Wednesday.
Ukraine’s new defense minister Rustem Umerov neither confirmed nor denied Sokolov had been killed in the strike when asked by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview from Kyiv Tuesday.
“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,” Umerov told Amanpour.
Before the two videos were published, the Ukrainian Special Operations Forces had said Friday’s attack – the latest in a string of bold strikes on the occupied peninsula of Crimea – killed 34 people, including Sokolov.
Ukraine has increasingly began to strike strategic Russian targets in Crimea, the Black Sea region of southern Ukraine annexed by Moscow in 2014. Earlier this month, Ukraine launched an extensive assault on a Russian ship repair base in Sevastopol, damaging an attack submarine and a warship.
Russia appointed Sokolov as its new commander for its Crimea-based Black Sea Fleet in August 2022, according to reports from state media outlet TASS at the time.