The Kremlin has released images of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, missing from state media since March 11. He appears in a window of a video conference hosted by Vladimir Putin. The video, released without sound, is the first image of Shoigú since March 11. The Kremlin thus tries to get out of the way of the speculation unleashed about his whereabouts.
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The agency RIA Novosti assures in an information that Shoigu has participated in the meeting on the “implementation of the state defense order” to take measures in the face of “the pressure of sanctions from Western countries on the defense industry of the Russian Federation.”
The Kremlin has reported that it has discussed issues related to the development of the military operation. “The Defense Minister reported on the progress of the special military operation, the provision of humanitarian assistance, security and the restoration of infrastructure in the liberated territories,” said Kremlin spokesman Dimitri Peskov.
In the brief silent video released by the Kremlin, Sergei is seen in a corner at the meeting. In other fragments distributed on networks by Kremlin journalists, interference can be seen right at the minister’s window. The chief editor of the television channel Rossiya 24 has declared to a Russian media that they did not record the images: “It was the Kremlin press service, they are the ones who delivered this piece. We didn’t record it, they blocked the sound, it’s their decision. It is not our. It was like that for everyone.”
This is the first information about Shoigu that Russia has given since March 11. In statements collected by the TASS agencyPeskov has justified his absence because “he does not have time for the media” because “he has many concerns related to the military operation”.
“The Defense Minister now has many concerns. A special military operation is underway. Now is not the time for media activity, this is quite understandable,” he said in response to a question about Shoigu’s whereabouts. Asked about the information from Agentstvo, a Russian independent investigative outlet that reported on possible health problems, Peskov said: “You don’t need to read that publication, contact the Defense Ministry.”
Agentstvo, one of the means censored by the Kremlin, traced this Wednesday a chronology of his latest appearances. The last time she appeared publicly was on March 11. Citing sources close to the minister, the media assured that she could have “health problems”, more specifically “heart problems”.
The investigative medium highlights that it is not the only high command whose whereabouts have not been known since March 11. Nothing is officially known about Valery GerasimovChief of Staff of the Russian Armed Forces.
Both Gerasimov and Shoigú are members of Putin’s closest circle and two of the pillars on which he placed his hopes on February 24.
Although Russia insists that the “special operation” is developing as expected, one month after the invasion of Ukraine, it becomes increasingly clear that the result is not what Putin wanted. The Ukrainian resistance slows the advance of the troops, especially in kyiv, and intelligence reports from countries such as the US and the UK confirm that the Russian armed forces are at a standstill.