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.