Where was Sergei Shoigu? Russia’s missing defense minister resurfaces.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, center, attends a promotion ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow in November 2019. (Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/Kremlin/Reuters)

For 12 days this month, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu appeared to vanish from public life.

His troops were fighting and dying in Ukraine, but Shoigu, a senior aide and friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s, was nowhere to be seen.

Some suggested, without evidence, that he had resigned, while others were sure that he was sick, dead or detained as the invasion stalled and Putin cracked down on dissent.

As Moscow became increasingly isolated, global speculation swirled: Where was Sergei Shoigu?

Then, on Saturday, the Defense Ministry posted an official video showing Shoigu leading a meeting on military procurement. He sat at the head of a table of about a dozen senior defense officials, including the chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, Valery Gerasimov.

It was his first public appearance since March 11, save for a quick glimpse of Shoigu on television screens Thursday as part of a teleconference call with Putin. His absence has raised questions about the military leadership and how Putin is responding to a war that has not gone according to plan.

Here’s what we know about Shoigu and his disappearance from public view.