If Russia’s Black Sea Fleet commander is dead, “it’s good news for everybody,” Ukraine’s Defense Minister Rustem Umerov told CNN Tuesday.
In an exclusive interview from Kyiv, he neither confirmed nor denied Admiral Viktor Sokolov had been killed in a Ukrainian strike last week on the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, Crimea.
Earlier Tuesday, the Russian defense ministry published a video appearing to show Sokolov participating by video conference in a meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, calling into question Ukrainian claims that the admiral had died in the attack.
“He 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 CNN.
Some context: Ukraine’s military has said it is “clarifying” information received about Sokolov. CNN cannot confirm if the man in the video is Sokolov, when the meeting took place or where his video appearance was filmed. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier on Tuesday refused to comment on the Ukrainian claim that Sokolov had been killed.