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Russian Vice Admiral Sergey Pinchuk in 2016. (Wikipedia / Russian Ministry of Defense)
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Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed Vice Admiral Sergey Pinchuk as the new commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, state news agency RIA Novosti reported on April 2.

The U.K. Defense Ministry reported in its March 31 intelligence update that Pinchuk had replaced Admiral Viktor Sokolov after Ukraine carried out several successful strikes against the Black Sea Fleet.

Pinchuk "has likely sought to improve the survival chances of Russian vessels by adopting further preventative and defensive measures, including narrowing the entrance gap to port facilities," the ministry said.

Pinchuk was born in Sevastopol, Ukraine, and has been deputy commander in chief of the Black Sea Fleet since May 2021. He has been sanctioned by the U.K., the EU, Australia, and Switzerland for his role in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine's Special Operations Forces reported that Sokolov had been killed in a Ukrainian missile strike on the Black Sea Fleet's headquarters in Sevastopol in September 2023.

Opinion: What’s left of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet?
Russia’s war against Ukraine is shattering the conventions of warfare in many ways. One of the most illustrative examples is the systematic destruction of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet (BSF) by Ukraine, a country that has virtually no navy of its own. The Ukrainian military’s use of coastal

Russia's Defense Ministry then claimed Sokolov was still alive, and published a video that purported to show a meeting between military leadership with Sokolov.

The White House refused to comment on whether Sokolov was confirmed to be alive.

Russian Telegram channels claimed Sokolov had been dismissed in February after Ukraine sunk the Caesar Kunikov, the fourth landing ship from Russia's Black Sea Fleet to be sunk since the beginning of the full-scale invasion.

Ukraine struck two more Russian landing ships on March 23, followed by a strike on the landing ship Konstantin Olshansky on March 26.

The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sokolov on March 5 for his role in Russia's campaign of carrying out strikes on Ukrainian electricity infrastructure during the winter of 2022-2023.

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