On September 22nd, Ukrainian Special Forces launched Operation Crab Trap to target a meeting of the Russian Federation Black Sea Fleet command staff at their headquarters in Sevastopol, Crimea.
Initially, Russian state owned media claimed that only three people were injured and no one was killed. Russian military bloggers and the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense Telegram pages claimed that five of seven UK-supplied Storm Shadow Missiles were shot down and no one was killed.
However, as of this morning, Ukrainian state-owned media has been flaring with claims of more than one hundred killed and wounded. On September 23rd, initial Ukrainian casualty claims came as Intelligence Head Budanov and Ukraine Special Forces Telegram pages claimed responsibility for the attack. They initially claimed 34 killed. Now they are claiming that 34 were killed including Black Sea Fleet Commander Sokolov and more than 100 injured. This was initially reported by RBK Ukraine. However, within minutes, Russian military bloggers refuted the claim, saying that Captain first rank Dandykin of the Black Sea Fleet denied the claims.
It is important to remember that the deaths of key Russian figures have been subject to immense information operations including but not limited to Surovikin, Kadyrov, and even Putin. While these claims are much more viable than the aforementioned, this cannot be confirmed until the Russian Federation announces the death.
Viktor Nikolayevich Sokolov is an officer of the Russian Navy, now admiral. Since 2022 he has been the commander of the Black Sea Fleet.
According to public facing records from the Russian Federation Navy, Sokolov’s first assignment was with the Pacific Fleet as commander of the mine-torpedo warfare department of the Riga-class frigate SKR-61 from August 1985 to August 1987, followed by a posting as commander of the same department on the Natya-class minesweeper Yakor from August 1987 to October 1989.
He served in several staff billets in the Pacific and Northern Fleets throughout the 80s, 90s and early 2000s. In August 2013 he was appointed deputy commander of the Northern Fleet. In mid 2016 Sokolov was assigned to command a detachment of the Northern Fleet, based around the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and the battlecruiser Pyotr Velikiy, for operations off the coast of Syria during the Russian intervention there.
He served there until 2020 when he took over as head of the Kuznetsov Naval Academy. In 2022 he took command of the Black Sea Fleet.