The fate of the Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF) commander who was reported killed by a Ukrainian cruise missile strike on his headquarters last month remains unclear, a top Kyiv intelligence official has told Kyiv Post.
In an exclusive interview, Andriy Yusov, a representative of Ukraine’s Defence Intelligence Directorate (HUR), said there was “still no confirmation” of the “liquidation” of Admiral Viktor Sokolov.
“What is the proven fact is that many brass hats were liquidated, including the BSF command staff,” he said.
“As to Sokolov, he’s definitely anything but fine. If and as soon as his death is confirmed, we’ll surely inform the public.”
The fate of Sokolov has been somewhat of a mystery since the Ukrainian strike on the Black Sea Fleet HQ on Sept. 22.
Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces (SSO) announced on Sept. 25 that Sokolov was among 34 officers who had been killed in the attack.
Russian state media then reported he was in fact alive and well, showing him apparently appearing by videolink to a meeting in Moscow on Sept. 26, though he did not speak and some commentators suggested he appeared to be sitting in a hospital bed.
Ukraine’s SSO later said they were “clarifying” details surrounding the attack, saying: “Many [of those killed] have not yet been identified because the body parts were scattered.
“Since the Russians were urgently forced to publish a response with Sokolov allegedly alive, our units are clarifying information [about his status].”
Since then, there has been no word of Sokolov’s fate and despite the fact it would be a simple thing to prove he was alive, Russia has issued no further verbal, photographic or video evidence about his condition or whereabouts.
When asked who might be currently in command of the BSF, Yusov said: “That’s a difficult question.
“If they still don’t confirm his death, then of course they will keep delaying a replacement as long as possible. As to who may be acting in his position, there are deputies with the relevant succession of authority.”
Yusov cautioned that no one should “underestimate the enemy,” and that “in general” the BSF is “still managed and running.”
He added: “And we know that the fleet’s infrastructure has been partially relocated from Ukrainian Crimea to Novorossiysk.
“Certain commanding and managing procedures are being carried out there.”
Source : Kyiv Post