Deaths of generals expose Russia’s troubles in Ukraine

Published March 29, 2022
This handout photograph released by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on March 27 shows Russian tank destroyed following a battle in the town of Trostyanets, Sumy region. — AFP
This handout photograph released by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on March 27 shows Russian tank destroyed following a battle in the town of Trostyanets, Sumy region. — AFP

PARIS: The killing in action of several Russian generals and senior military figures in Ukraine has revealed the extent of the heavy losses and logistical problems encountered by Moscow’s invading army.

According to Kyiv, seven Russian generals have been killed since the invasion was launched on Feb 24, in what Western officials say would be an unusually high casualty rate among military top brass.

It is not possible to independently verify this figure and official Russian sources have so far confirmed only the death of one general and another senior naval commander.

According to the Ukraine defence ministry on Friday, the seventh Russian general to lose his life was Lieutenant General Yakov Rezantsev who was killed in fighting in Chornobaivka outside the southern city of Kherson.

“I would treat these numbers with a grain of salt,” said Colin Clarke, director of research at the New York-based research thank tank Soufan Centre.

“But whether it’s five or 15 generals, the fact that they are losing any generals at all demonstrates that Russian command-and-control is extremely weak and its lines of communication have been severed by Ukrainian military success,” he added.

In a post on Telegram, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s adviser Mykhailo Podoliak described an “extraordinary” death rate among Russian generals and senior military figures.

“This is a sign of total unpreparedness of the army,” he said. “All this, no doubt, demoralises the Russian army — they realise that their top leadership is completely incompetent”.

The weaknesses shown by the Russian army in Ukraine, in particular in intelligence, logistics and tactical errors, have forced military chiefs to go to the front lines, said a senior French military official, who asked not to be named.

“Orders may not have been well understood or received, units could be disobedient or there is a major problem with morale. All this could make the generals go to the front.”

Of the generals, only the death in action on Feb 28 of Major General Andrei Sukhovetsky, deputy commander of Russia’s 41st Combined Arms Army, has been confirmed by official Russian sources.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2022

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