Russia on Wednesday published more video of Adm. Viktor Sokolov, the commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, in efforts to counter Kyiv’s claims that he died in a Ukrainian strike on the fleet’s headquarters in occupied Crimea last week. Russia’s state-run defense TV channel, a local TV channel and pro-Russian telegram channels released video of Sokolov speaking — but it is not clear when the footage was filmed. Ukraine’s special operations forces said Tuesday it was “clarifying the information” regarding Sokolov’s status. Sokolov would be the highest-ranking official killed by Ukraine since the war began.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Wednesday accused the West of aiding Ukraine on Friday’s attack on the fleet headquarters. “Western intelligence means, NATO satellite assets and reconnaissance planes” as well as “advice of American and British security agencies” had aided Ukraine in planning and carrying out the attack, she said. Last Friday’s strike on Sevastopol was an embarrassing failure for Russian air defenses and could disrupt the fleet’s operations.
Here’s the latest on the war and its impact across the globe.
Did Ukraine kill Russian Admiral Viktor Sokolov?
Russian state-run defense TV channel Zvezda News published video on Wednesday that showed Sokolov speaking to reporters. “Surface forces, submarine forces, naval aviation and coastal troops are successfully fulfilling their tasks,” Sokolov said. However, the date the video was filmed remains unclear — in the clip, Sokolov describes an award issued to his unit from Russian President Vladimir Putin in August.
Pro-Russian telegram channels in Sevastopol published video of Sokolov giving awards to a soccer team that won a tournament on Sept. 18. A Sevastopol local TV channel also aired footage that appeared to be from the same competition. “Nothing has happened, life goes on,” Sokolov says in the video. “The Black Sea Fleet fulfills the tasks set by the command confidently and successfully.” The date of these videos remains unclear.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday that Sokolov had attended a defense meeting this week, but directed further queries to the ministry of defense. Russia’s Defense Ministry had released a video on Tuesday purporting to show Sokolov attending a meeting via video link. In the video, Sokolov briefly appears on screen, but does not speak. The Washington Post did not detect any signs of obvious manipulation in that video but could not independently confirm its authenticity.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to comment Tuesday about whether Sokolov was alive. She told reporters the White House was aware of the meeting video released earlier by Russia’s Defense Ministry, but did not “have anything to confirm at this time.” Ukraine’s special operation forces said that since Russia had been “urgently forced to publish an answer with an apparently alive Sokolov … our units are clarifying the information.”
A Polish cabinet minister called for a probe into the possible extradition from Canada of a 98-year-old Ukrainian veteran, Yaroslav Hunka, who fought in a Nazi unit during World War II. Anthony Rota, the speaker of Canada’s House of Commons, resigned Tuesday after he sparked widespread backlash for hosting Hunka at Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s address before Canada’s parliament last week. s. Polish Education Minister Przemysław Czarnek on Wednesday called the event “scandalous” and said he would take steps to extradite Hunka to Poland to face legal proceedings. In 2018, Poland passed a law criminalizing mention of Polish complicity in Nazi atrocities, though Warsaw largely walked-back the law after international outcry.
The Ukrainian Soccer Federation said it would boycott any youth tournaments with Russian players after Europe’s governing soccer body on Tuesday said it would readmit Russians younger than 17 years old in the upcoming season. The UEFA banned Russian national and club teams after the war began and this week’s announcement marked the first easing of restrictions. The Kyiv-based soccer federation said the UEFA’s decision “tolerates Russia’s aggressive policy.” UEFA said in a statement that “children should not be punished for actions whose responsibility lies exclusively with adults.” Kyiv called on other countries to join its boycott. Latvia and England voiced support, and other countries are expected to follow.
Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the exiled mayor of Mariupol, said Russia had begun constructing a railway to the occupied cities of Mariupol, Volnovakha and Donetsk in southeastern and eastern Ukraine. “Now it’s not just talk, they have begun construction,” he wrote in a Telegram post, alongside unverified photos of what appear to be tracks under construction. The railway, Andriushchenko said, would allow Russia to move bodies, weapons and resources into eastern Ukraine without relying on the Crimea Bridge, on which Ukraine has carried out attacks.
The Ukrainian government has fully implemented seven recommendations from the European Commission to further its path to E.U. membership, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said. In the announcement, included in a statement unveiling a program aimed at improving opportunities for minorities and Indigenous people, Shmyhal cautioned that there was “still a long and difficult way ahead” on Ukraine’s accession to the European Union bloc. The E.U. granted Ukraine candidate status last year, although experts warn full membership could still be decades away.
Russia attacks Odessa port in latest assault on Ukrainian grain: A Russian attack on Odessa was the latest assault on Ukraine’s vital agriculture sector as Moscow seeks to exploit divisions between Kyiv and its European neighbors over grain exports, Alex Horton and Kamila Hrabchuk report. The strike killed at least two people, destroyed granaries and damaged port facilities.
Russian disruptions to Ukraine’s use of the Black Sea as a highway for exporting food have forced Kyiv to explore overland routes, but Ukraine has faced resistance from some of its closest neighbors.