Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s Defence Minister resurfaces

Russia’s powerful defence minister resurfaced in a short snippet of video footage aired by state media on Thursday after dropping out of public view for days during Russia’s war in Ukraine.


Sergei Shoigu, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, was spotted on a split screen of top officials as Putin met his Security Council remotely in footage aired by Russia’s RIA news agency.


The 66-year-old minister had not been seen for 12 days, some Russian media outlets said on Wednesday, prompting speculation about his whereabouts.


Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov played down that speculation on Thursday, saying that Shoigu had a lot on his plate and it was understandable he was not devoting a lot of time to media appearances.


“The defence minister has a lot on his mind right now. A special military operation is underway. Now is not really the time for media activity,” Peskov told reporters.

Meanwhile, a senior military official from NATO told several news outlets that, based on numbers provided by Ukrainian officials, up to 40,000 Russian soldiers have been killed, taken prisoner, are missing or are injured. As many as 15,000 Russian troops have been killed in the fighting, along with six generals.

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Russia is likely to challenge those figures, however, and has not provided casualty estimates in recent weeks.


Before Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24, many Western officials projected Ukraine could fall within a matter of days. However, a month into the fighting, Moscow has seized only a handful of smaller cities and Russian advances have faced fierce pushback on the ground and in the sky.


Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin offered a bleak assessment last week of how Russian forces were progressing in Ukraine, saying that Moscow had “struggled with logistics” and made “missteps.”

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“I don’t see, you know, evidence of good employment of tactical intelligence. I don’t see integration of air capability with a ground maneuver,” Austin told CNN’s Don Lemon.


“And so there are a number of things that we would expect to have seen that we just haven’t seen, and the Russians really have had some … problems. So, many of their assumptions have not proven to be true as they entered this fight.”

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