By Guy Faulconbridge and Andrew Osborn

MOSCOW (Reuters) -Russia’s most senior general, Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, was shown ordering subordinates to destroy Ukrainian missile sites in a video released on Monday, his first appearance in public since a failed June 24 mercenary mutiny.

Sitting in a military command room on a white leather seat chairing a meeting with a top generals, some on a video call, Gerasimov, 67, was shown giving orders, including to Russia’s powerful military intelligence service (GRU).

Gerasimov was told that a Ukrainian missile attack on Crimea, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014, and on the Rostov and Kaluga regions had been thwarted on Sunday and discussing how Russia should respond.

The defence ministry said the footage showed Gerasimov at a meeting on Sunday. It described him as chief of the general staff of Russia’s armed forces and commander of Moscow’s forces in Ukraine, the positions he held before the mutiny.

The footage shows that President Vladimir Putin has kept his two most powerful military men, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Gerasimov, in their posts despite demands from mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin to sack them.

Prigozhin’s June 24 mutiny was aimed at settling scores with Shoigu and Gerasimov, whom he said were incompetent traitors who had pulled the Kremlin chief into a failing war that has laid bare the corruption and rot in Russia’s military.

In the video, Gerasimov was shown asking for and listening to a report by Viktor Afzalov, deputy to General Sergei Surovikin in the aerospace forces, who has not been since in public since the mutiny.

It was unclear where Surovikin, who before the rebellion was deputy commander of Russia’s forces in Ukraine and who was repeatedly praised by Prigozhin, was.

Nicknamed “General Armageddon” by the Russian media for his reputed ruthlessness. Surovikin is formally commander in chief of the aerospace forces.

“We note that the aerospace forces have coped with the task,” Gerasimov was shown as saying.

He then asked the aerospace forces and GRU military intelligence to identify “the storage sites and launch positions of missiles and other enemy strike weapons to plan a preemptive strike”.

The footage released by the defence ministry showed the participants of the video call blurred out, though explicitly showed Surovikin’s deputy, Afzalov.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Andrew Osborn; Editing by Toby Chopra and Alex Richardson)

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