In a brief televised appearance on Thursday, Sergey Shoigu made his first public appearance since March 11. His absence fanned rumours that he died of a heart attack following Russia’s disastrous invasion of its western neighbour. “Shoigu’s heart attack came after Putin was harshly accused of a complete failure of the Ukrainian invasion,” Anton Gerashchenko, an assistant to Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs, posted on his Facebook page.
He went on to say that Russia’s Defense Minister was now “recovering” in a hospital.
However, the Kremlin attempted to dispel the damaging rumours by bringing Mr Shoigu out for a brief television appearance on Thursday.
In his heavily scripted TV performance, the pale-faced 66-year-old appeared far from healthy.
He read from notes in a raspy and rough voice, pleading with the Finance Ministry to release more funds for Moscow’s war in Ukraine.
Russia’s military chief stated that it was critical to maintain the pace of weapon deliveries to troops on the front lines.
According to reports, Russian forces are running low on both weapons and equipment as they face fierce resistance from Ukraine’s army.
According to a Pentagon official, stocks of precision guided missiles, in particular, are expected to be depleted.
According to Colin Kahl, US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Moscow will increasingly rely on so-called dumb bombs and artillery.
Mykhailo Golub shared a photo of an order allegedly issued by the Russian Ministry of Defense.
The executive branch appears to be implying that all is not well with Putin’s top general.
Officers are instructed, according to the leaked document, to impersonate Mr Shoigu’s interactions.
“In the period up to March 30th, a photo and text showing Defence Minister Sergei Kuzhugetovich Shoigu leading and participating in military events must be published on all official sources of the Russian Ministry of Defence every day,” the statement says.
“At the same time, the information should show the Defence Minister’s presence at his workplace, actively participating in the management of the special military operation in Ukraine.”
The document was dated March 23 and appears to have been signed by Army General Bulgakov.
It comes as Russia continues to suffer heavy casualties in its military campaign in Ukraine.
President Volodymr Zelensky boasted earlier on Saturday that Russian forces had lost 16,000 soldiers.
Military analysts estimate that Moscow has lost between 10 and 20 Battalion Tactical Groups out of a total of 120.
Putin, on the other hand, is going to send reinforcements to the front lines, indicating that he is intensifying his military campaign against Kyiv.