Two of Russia’s top defense and military officials have been seen speaking in a video for the first time in more than two weeks, amid speculation over their whereabouts.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu chairs an army meeting, which General Staff Valery Gerasimov was seen at, to discuss arms supplies.
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MM. Shoigu and Gerasimov are close allies of Vladimir Poutine and supervise the invasion of the country Ukraine.
Prior to a video clip of a meeting between Putin and his Security Council on Thursday, Mr Shoigu had not been seen in public since March 11.
It is unclear when this video was taken, although it was uploaded to social media today.
Speculation has grown over their whereabouts amid reports that Russian officials may have been punished for the Ukrainian invasion for failing to capture areas such as kyiv.
It comes as Western officials claimed a Russian commander was killed by his own troops due to a high death toll in their brigade.
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Other media reported that the commander had just been injured.
Silence indicates that “the operation did not go as planned”
Security and defense analyst Michael Clarke said the recent silence of Messrs. Shoigu and Gerasimov was significant.
He said: “Their silence indicates that this operation did not go as planned, otherwise they would have given daily updates at the highest level.
“The speculation is that they are out of favor and the loyalty of the armed forces at higher levels may be in doubt.”
He added that before the invasion, neither Mr. Shoigu nor Mr. Gerasimov looked comfortable in a circulated video of Putin giving them their campaign goals.
Russian Defense Ministry video shows a group of uniformed officials seated around a table looking down as Mr Shoigu speaks. None of the other military leaders speak in the footage that was released.
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Why didn’t they appear in public?
In response to speculation about their whereabouts, the Kremlin said Mr Shoigu was busy.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Mr Shoigu had a lot on his plate and it was understandable that he did not devote much time to media appearances.
An adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry also claimed he had not appeared in public since mid-March due to a heart attack.
In a Facebook post on Friday evening, Anton Gerashchenko said the defense minister was undergoing rehabilitation in the hospital.
Mr. Shoigu, 66, has been Russian defense minister since 2012 and has sometimes been tipped as a potential successor to Putin in the Kremlin.
Mr. Shoigu and Mr. Gerasimov are on sanctions lists from several Western countries, including the United States and Canada, in response to the invasion.