Ukraine’s top military commander has made a defiant video appearance after Russian media spread false rumours of his death during a visit to the front line. In a symbolic gesture reminiscent of Winston Churchill’s iconic “V for Victory” salute, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi raised two fingers, dismissing the death rumours as nothing more than “science fiction”.
In recent days, pro-Kremlin commentators have been claiming the leader had was killed in an attack on a command post near the village of Posad-Pokrovske in the Kherson region.
It was then later claimed he had sustained a head injury and shrapnel wounds in an alleged missile strike.
These rumours were denied by senior Ukrainian officials who asserted that the general had engaged in private conversations with President Zelensky after the alleged attack.
Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar attributed the rumours to heightened tensions surrounding the Donetsk city of Bakhmut, which Russian forces have claimed to have captured.
Until now, General Zaluzhnyi had not made a public appearance since the lies began circulating via prominent Russian outlets.
To put an end to the speculation, Colonel Anatoliy Shtefan, a high-ranking member of Ukraine’s armed forces, shared a video on social media showing the commander alive and unharmed.
Colonel Shtefan addressed the camera, condemning the “enchanting and science-fiction stories” propagated by Russian propaganda and so-called “experts”.
General Zaluzhnyi, sitting behind a desk, waved and expressed gratitude to his fellow Ukrainians, affirming their shared determination to prevail.
This was not the first time General Zaluzhnyi had been targeted by Russian propagandists this month.
On May 10, he had been scheduled to attend an in-person meeting with NATO’s military committee focusing on the Russian invasion. But he couldn’t attend because of events going on in Ukraine.
Russian media seized the opportunity and claimed he was recovering in a military hospital because of alleged injuries.
Others lied that he was on holiday in Cyprus, using an old picture of him in the sea as apparent proof.