• War in Ukraine This is how Ukraine is winning the battle of the Black Sea against Russia

Ukrainian Special Forces reported that Admiral Viktor Sokolov, commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, was killed in last week's Ukrainian attack on the fleet's headquarters in the Crimean port of Sevastopol.

The Ukrainian military says Friday's attack targeted a meeting of Russian navy leaders in the city of Sevastopol. There "34 officers died, including the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Another 105 occupants were injured. The headquarters building cannot be restored," the special forces said in a statement.

Russia's Defense Ministry has neither confirmed nor denied that Sokolov was killed in the attack in Crimea. After the explosions, the Russian Defense Department said a Russian serviceman had died, but later clarified that he was considered missing.

It is also unclear where Ukraine's Special Forces have taken the death and wounded toll in the attack. Each side frequently exaggerates enemy losses and says little about its own casualties.

What is known for sure is that at least one Ukrainian missile hit the target in Sevastopol. Officials placed by Russia to manage Crimea confirmed the Ukrainian attack on Friday and images of the damaged building appeared on social media amid a plume of smoke.

The Ukrainian statement says nothing about the Rostov-on-Don submarine, which was damaged during the same attack. But it does point out that among the dead were soldiers from the landing ship Minsk. The Russian Defense Ministry has admitted that the missiles damaged two ships under repair. Photographs, including satellite imagery and several videos indicate that there were several missile hits.

If Sokolov is dead, he is the highest-ranking Russian military officer to kill Ukraine since the start of the full-scale invasion last year. On June 6, 2023, Sokolov, married with three children, was awarded the military rank of admiral. He was appointed commander of the Black Sea Fleet in September 2022.

Viktor Nikolaevich Sokolov was born in 1962 in the then Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. He replaced Igor Osipov last year, another more than likely 'victim' of the Ukrainian offensive although in the professional field. According to Ukrainian media reports Igor Osipov was arrested by Russia's own special services as punishment shortly after the sinking of the Moskva missile cruiser on April 13, 2022. Osipov was absent from the May 9 Victory Day and Black Sea Fleet Day celebrations in Sevastopol days later, the latter celebrations in which the commander in charge of the Russian Navy's Black Sea Fleet always has one of the main ceremonial roles.

Kiev is opening a new front in Crimea. It has stepped up attacks on the Black Sea and the occupied peninsula as Ukrainian forces continue a slow and costly counteroffensive — lasting nearly four months — to retake Russian-occupied territory.

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