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Russian Black Sea commander shown alive and well after Ukraine said it had killed him

Viktor Sokolov, commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and one of the Navy’s most senior officers, took part in a video conference on Tuesday, a day after Ukrainian special forces said he had been killed, according to Reuters.

The Russian Defence Ministry published photos and video showing Sokolov taking part in a video conference with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and other top admirals and army chiefs. The video was shown on Russian state television.

Ukrainian special forces said on Monday that a missile strike last week on the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in the port of Sevastopol killed Sokolov, Moscow’s top admiral in Crimea, as well as 33 other officers.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had earlier made no comment on Ukraine’s statement, referring journalists to the Defence Ministry.

In a video published by the ministry, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that more than 17,000 Ukrainian servicemen had been killed in September and more than 2,700 weapons had been destroyed, including seven US Bradley fighting vehicles. He said:

The Ukrainian armed forces are suffering serious losses along the entire front line. The United States and its allies continue to arm the armed forces of Ukraine, and the Kyiv regime throws untrained soldiers to their slaughter in senseless assaults.

Ukraine’s counter-offensive has yet to yield significant territorial gains against Russian forces, which control about 17.5% of the internationally recognised territory of Ukraine.

According to a scorecard compiled by the Belfer Center at Harvard Kennedy School on 19 September, Russia has recaptured 35 square miles of territory from Ukraine over the past month, while Ukrainian forces have taken 16 square miles from Russian forces.

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