Russia shows video to prove top commander is alive
BBC || Shining BD
Russia's Defence Ministry has released a video showing the Black Sea Fleet's commander at a conference, despite Ukraine claiming to have killed him.
It's not clear when the footage, where Viktor Sokolov appears on a video link with the defence minister, was filmed.
The ministry said the meeting with senior officials happened on Tuesday.
Ukraine special forces said on Monday Adm Sokolov and 33 other officers died in a missile strike on the fleet's HQ in Sevastopol, occupied Crimea.
They did not name the admiral directly, nor did they offer any evidence that he had died. They now say they are "clarifying" the reports.
"As it is known, 34 officers were killed as a result of a missile attack on the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation," they said in a statement.
"Many [bodies] still have not been identified due to the condition of the body parts."
This suggests Ukraine is backtracking following the release of the Russian Defence Ministry's clip.
In a statement, it now cites "open sources" for its claim that the commander was one of the 34.
There is a chance that Ukraine did act on intelligence and target a key meeting in the heart of occupied Crimea.
He is also briefly seen on several occasions on video link with the commanders of Russia's five fleets including the Black Sea Fleet, none of whom speak.
Facial recognition software shows a match between other images of Adm Sokolov and the man who appears in the latest video, suggesting it is him.
But the BBC has so far been unable to verify whether the meeting actually took place on Tuesday, or whether the image of Adm Sokolov on the video link is in real time.