Notorious Russian “Z-channel military correspondents” Rybar and Romanov Light have posted claims on their Telegram channels that Admiral Viktor Sokolov has been replaced as commander of Moscow’s Black Sea Fleet (BSF) by his Chief of Staff, Vice Admiral Sergei Pinchuk.

Sokolov had, it seems wrongly, been reported as having been killed along with 34 other naval officers when then BSF headquarters in Sevastopol, Crimea was struck by at least two Anglo-French Storm Shadow cruise missiles on Sept. 25 last year.

His death was denied and videos were posted by Russian media two days later apparently showing him attending the meeting of the Russian Ministry of Defense senior board by video link.

Sokolov had been put into the post in September 2022 when his predecessor, Igor Osipov, was dismissed following the sinking of the BSF’s flagship, the missile cruiser Moskva.

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It seems that the loss of yet another large naval vessel, the large landing ship Caesar Kunikov, sunk by Ukrainian MAGURA unmanned surface vessels (USV) on Feb. 14, was one too many.

Under Sokolov’s command things got worse for the BSF as losses began to mount. It was estimated the BSF consisted of around 80 warships at the outset of the full-scale invasion, including large warships, landing ships, submarines, patrol boats, and minesweepers.

Since then, Ukraine has carried out at least 27 successful attacks on Russian naval and other vessels, which, according to Ukrainian navy spokesman Dmytro Pletenchuk, has resulted in the destruction of 25 and damage to 15 more. A number of those listed as damaged are unlikely to return to service in the near future.

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