Russian Black Sea Fleet/Portal
Admiral Viktor Sokolov appeared in an interview in a video released on September 27, 2023.
The Russian admiral who Ukrainian forces said died in an attack on occupied Crimea last week is seen in a video posted by a Russian military broadcaster on Wednesday – the second video released in as many days casting further doubt on Kiev’s claim.
Viktor Sokolov, commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, was questioned by a reporter in a video about the missile attack on the fleet’s headquarters in Sevastopol that Ukraine said killed him.
“The Black Sea Fleet confidently and successfully carries out the tasks set by the command,” Sokolov said in the video posted on Telegram by Zvezda News, the Russian military’s media outlet.
The video was released on Wednesday, but CNN cannot confirm the date the interview was conducted. There are few details in the interview that provide information about the time or place.
In the video, Sokolov also referred to the “Order of Ushakov” award given to Russia’s 810th Marine Brigade. According to Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhaev, this award was presented on August 29.
The interview was released a day after the Russian Defense Ministry released a video that also appeared to show Sokolov meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and other Russian military leaders.
Russian Ministry of Defense
A video released on Tuesday showed Sokolov attending a meeting of the Russian Defense Ministry.
In Russian footage released on Tuesday, a man resembling Sokolov appeared to attend the meeting via video conference. The name tag on his uniform read Sokolov VN and his screen displayed the Cyrillic letters “ЧФ,” the abbreviation for the Black Sea Fleet. CNN was unable to confirm it was Sokolov, when the meeting took place or where his video appearance was filmed.
The Kremlin initially refused to confirm whether Sokolov was still alive or not. “There is no information from the Ministry of Defense. This is entirely within their competence and we have nothing to say here,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.
But the next day the news had changed, and Peskov confirmed that Sokolov had attended the Defense Ministry meeting.
“Yesterday we talked about the fleet commander. He attended the meeting,” Peskov told reporters on Wednesday.
Ukraine’s new Defense Minister Rustem Umerov neither confirmed nor denied that Sokolov was killed in the attack when asked about it in an exclusive interview in Kyiv by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.
“He [Sokolov] is in our temporarily occupied territories…he shouldn’t be there at all. So if he is dead, it is good news for everyone that we continue to occupy our territory,” Umerov told Amanpour.
Before the two videos were released, Ukrainian special forces said Friday’s attack – the latest in a series of bold attacks on the occupied Crimean peninsula – killed 34 people, including Sokolov.
Ukraine has increasingly begun attacking strategic Russian targets in Crimea, the Black Sea region in southern Ukraine annexed by Moscow in 2014. Earlier this month, Ukraine launched a large-scale attack on a Russian ship repair base in Sevastopol, damaging an attack submarine and a warship.
According to state media outlet TASS reports at the time, Russia appointed Sokolov as the new commander of its Crimea-based Black Sea Fleet in August 2022.