A Blog by Jonathan Low


Mar 27, 2022

Why the Russian Officer Corps Elite Is Being Decimated in Ukraine

The Russian senior officer corps is under intense pressure from Putin to turn the Russian army's failure in Ukraine into success. They are aware that the inability to do so will result in their being sacked and posssibly, as happened frequently under Stalin, executed or 'disappeared.'

As a result, they are taking risks that senior officers in western armies would not, driven in part by the poor quality of their communications, which exposes them to identification and elimination. The result is an unprecedented culling of experienced combat leaders. JL 

Alia Shoiab reports in Insider:

Seven Russian major generals are said to have been killed in the fighting, along with several other senior officers. 15 generals and commanders have been killed in action. Russian commanders are moving up towards the frontline in an attempt to restore momentum to the invasion.  "Those commanders are trying to impose their own personality on the battlefield but this, in turn, is placing them at greater risk."

Following its invasion of Ukraine several weeks ago, Russia's once-feared military has faced fierce resistance.

Some experts believe that Russia may have overreached, as it has struggled to make the quick progress it expected to and has reportedly lost a slew of high-profile military figures.

Six Russian major generals are said to have been killed in the fighting, along with several other senior officers, according to reports.

Russian commanders are moving up towards the frontline in an attempt to restore momentum to the invasion of Ukraine according to western officials, said Gordon Corera, a BBC security correspondent, in a tweet.

 "Those commanders are trying to impose their own personality on the battlefield but this, in turn, is placing them at greater risk," said Corera, as reported by Insider.

Ukraine claims to have killed more than 14,000 Russian troops. The Pentagon has estimated up to 7,000 Russian soldiers have been killed.

The Kremlin has not acknowledged the scale of its losses, last admitting that it had lost 498 Russian troops on March 2.

Some of the deaths were confirmed by Russia and reported by Ukrainian officials and other sources.

These are the officers reported to have been killed.

Andrei Sukhovetsky

Maj. Gen. Andrei Sukhovetsky was the first high-ranking loss for the Russian military after being reported to have been killed by sniper fire.

Sukhovetsky was the commanding general of Russia's 7th Airborne Division and deputy commander of the 41st Combined Arms Army.

Vitaly Gerasimov

Vitaly Gerasimov,
Major General Vitaly Gerasimov, the first deputy commander of Russia's 41st army. 
Ukrainian military intelligence

Maj. Gen. Vitaly Gerasimov became the second senior Russian commander killed after Ukrainian military intelligence claimed he was shot dead in Kharkiv.

The defense ministry released intercepted audio of what it said were two Russian Federal Security Service, or FSB, officers discussing the death.

Andrey Kolesnikov

Ukraine's military said in a tweet that they killed Russian Maj. Gen. Andrey Kolesnikov. He is believed to be the commander of the 29th Combined Arms Army. 

His death would make him the third top Russian general to be killed.


Oleg Mityaev

Russia reportedly lost its fourth general after Maj. Gen. Oleg Mityaev who was killed during the Russian assault on the city of Mariupol, Anton Gerashchenko, an advisor to Ukraine's Interior Ministry, wrote on Telegram.

Ukrainian troops were able to intercept a call by a Russian general and kill him, according to The New York Times.

The paper cited two US military officials for the information. It did not name the general or give a location.

Andrei Mordvichev

Russian Lieutenant General Andrei Mordvichev was the commander of the 8th General Army of the Southern Military District of the Armed Forces, and died as a result of "fire on the enemy", the general staff of the Ukrainian army said on Twitter.

The general was reportedly killed when Ukrainian forces struck an airfield in Chornobayivka, near Kherson Airport, which is being used as a temporary Russian base, according to Oleksiy Arestovych, former presidential adviser, local outlet Interfax reported. 

The Kremlin has not confirmed the general's death.

Yakov Rezantsev

Ukraine said it killed Lt. Gen. Yakov Rezantsev, Russia's 49th Combined Arms Army commander and one of the country's highest-ranking military officials, The Kyiv Independent's Illia Ponomarenko reported.

Russia has not confirmed the death, which an aide of Zelenskyy said occurred in Chornobaivka, a village in southern Ukraine. 

Rezantsev had previously boasted that the invasion of Ukraine would be over in hours, The Telegraph reported.

Dmitry Safronov

Ukraine's Ministry of Defense said that Lieutenant Colonel Dmitry Safronov, Commander of the 61st Separate Marine Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces, was killed during fighting when Ukrainian forces recaptured the city of Chuhuiv in the Kharkiv region.

Denis Glebov 

In the same statement announcing Safronov's death, Ukraine's Defense Ministry said that Lieutenant Colonel Denis Glebov, Deputy Commander of the 11th Separate Airborne Assault, had also been killed.

Russian news outlets reported that Glebov was killed while taking part in a special operation in Donbas and was posthumously awarded the Order of Courage.

Konstantin Zizevsky

Guard Colonel Konstantin Zizevsky, the commander of the 247th Guards Air Assault Regiment, was reported to have been killed during a military operation to "protect the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics."

His death was confirmed in an Instagram post by Mikhail Vedernikov, the governor of the Pskov Region.


Yuri Agarkov

Guard Lieutenant Colonel Yuri Agarkov died alongside Konstantin Zizevsky, according to the same Instagram post by Mikhail Vedernikov, the governor of the Pskov Region. 

Agarkov had previously served as the 56th Air Assault Brigade chief of staff and commanded a motorized rifle regiment, according to a report in the Russian media.

Andrei Zakharov

Ukraine has claimed to have killed Colonel Andrei Zakharov in an ambush on a Russian armored column in a suburb of Kyiv, according to The Guardian.

Drone footage emerged of the fighting, and Ukrainian media claimed that Zakharov, the regiment's commander, was killed.

Sergei Porokhnya

Colonel Sergei Porokhnya, the commander of Russia's 12th Engineer Brigade based in Ufa, was reportedly killed in Ukraine.

Russian outlet KP-Ufa reported that the colonel was killed during a "special operation" in Ukraine, which was confirmed by some of his Russian colleagues on social media.

Sergei Sukharev

Colonel Sergei Sukharev, of the 331st Guards Parachute Assault Regiment from Kostroma, and his deputy Major Sergei Krylov were killed in battle in Ukraine, according to Russian state TV.

Sukharev was a leading Russian paratroop commander who's regiment fought against Ukraine outside the city Ilovaisk in Donbas back in 2014, Ukraine's Centre for Strategic Communication and Information Security (Stratcom) said in a statement, cited by The Independent. 

Ukrainian journalist Illia Ponomarenko said that Sukharev was "directly responsible for the Ilovaisk massacre of 2014."

Alexei Sharov

Colonel Alexei Sharov was reported to have been killed by Ukrainian forces in the besieged southern city of Mariupol.

Sharov commanded the 810th Guards Separate Order of Zhukov Brigade in the Russian Marines.

His death was reported by Odesa military administration spokesman Sergey Bratchuk on Telegram post, along with several Ukrainian news outlets including Ukrinform.


Magomed Tushaev

General Magomed Tushaev, a Chechen warlord, was reported to have been killed in a battle in Ukraine after a 56 tank convoy of Chechen tanks were destroyed near Hostomel, according to The Daily Mail.

Forces from Russia's Chechnya region have been supporting Putin in his invasion of Ukraine.

Another warlord reported killed is Vladimir Zhonga, who led the Sparta Battalion, a Neo-Nazi military unit that has the Kremlin's backing.

Vladimir Zhoga was reported to be shot dead in Volnovakha, The Daily Mail said.


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