Ukraine kills Russian generals at historic rate

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Russia has lost at least five generals fighting in Ukraine in less than a month, Western officials said Monday.

The tally of Russian generals killed in the nearly month-long conflict – most of them one- or two-star commanders, including at least one lieutenant general – is probably the highest casualty rate among general officers. of the Russian army since World War II.

On Sunday, Mykhailo Podoliak, senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, noted six Russian generals had been killed, calling the invading army “completely unprepared” for the fight in Ukraine. Western estimates of deaths among Russian commanders are slightly more conservative. A European diplomat familiar with Western intelligence assessments said Foreign Police Monday that at least five Russian generals had been killed, mainly due to failures in electronic communications equipment that left them vulnerable to targeted strikes and their efforts to bring in a large force of nearly 200,000 troops – many of them young conscripts – to follow orders by leading from the front.

Russia has lost at least five generals fighting in Ukraine in less than a month, Western officials said Monday.

The tally of Russian generals killed in the nearly month-long conflict – most of them one- or two-star commanders, including at least one lieutenant general – is probably the highest casualty rate among general officers. of the Russian army since World War II.

On Sunday, Mykhailo Podoliak, senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, noted six Russian generals had been killed, calling the invading army “completely unprepared” for the fight in Ukraine. Western estimates of deaths among Russian commanders are slightly more conservative. A European diplomat familiar with Western intelligence assessments said Foreign Police Monday that at least five Russian generals had been killed, mainly due to failures in electronic communications equipment that left them vulnerable to targeted strikes and their efforts to bring in a large force of nearly 200,000 troops – many of them young conscripts – to follow orders by leading from the front.

“They are fighting on the front line to get their orders through,” the EU diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss recent intelligence from the battlefield. “They have to go to the frontline to make things happen, which puts them at much greater risk than you would normally see.”

European diplomat says Russian death toll among general officers was up to a fifth of the number of commanders deployed to Ukraine, which Western intelligence estimates at 20 officers, making military less fit to operate and more bogged down. “It’s a matter of lack of preparedness among the military,” the diplomat said. “They ask for things to happen, and they don’t happen.”

While the war featured almost no ship-to-ship combat, high-ranking naval officers seem to be killed in greater numbers. Over the weekend, a deputy commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Andrey Paliy, who was due to be promoted to the rank of one-star admiral, was shot dead by Ukrainian forces outside the besieged city of Mariupol.

Earlier Monday, the pro-Kremlin tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda reported that 9,861 Russian soldiers had been killed in Ukraine in nearly a month of fighting, with 16,153 injured, a possible leak or hack of official Russian Defense Ministry statistics. The paragraph reporting this was later purged from history. Officially, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported that 498 Russian soldiers had been killed in Ukraine as of March 2, less than a week after the start of the war.

But officials said Russian commanders were also making tactical mistakes. After Major General Vitaly Gerasimov, a one-star equivalent, was killed outside the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv in early March, Ukrainian intelligence officials said they picked up radio conversations expressing frustration at a failure of Russian secure communications equipment. Gerasimov was considered the nephew of Valery Gerasimov, Russia’s highest ranking military officer.

The invasion of Ukraine, which lasted nearly a month, appears to mark the largest deployment of Russian forces since the fall of the Soviet Union more than 30 years ago. The Soviet Union’s nine-year war in Afghanistan in the 1980s peaked at 115,000 troops, while Russian troop strength claims in two wars in Chechnya were well below 100,000. Russia deployed a even smaller numbers of forces in Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014, sometimes using ununiformed troops to mask their movements.

The United States has not confirmed the death of any Russian commander. But US officials cited in the same breath the scale and complexity of the invasion of Ukraine, a country roughly the size of Texas, and the large Russian death toll, which left morgues in neighboring Belarus overflowing with the dead.

“It makes sense that they would have senior leadership, even general officers, on the ground for an invasion of this magnitude,” a senior US defense official told reporters on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity. to provide a candid assessment of the battlefield. “They didn’t do anything about [this] size and scale really never.

The senior US defense official said the Russian military also has a tradition of a stricter top-down command structure than Western militaries, giving junior officers far less flexibility and involving senior officers in the detail of decisions tactics. “It’s apples to oranges in terms of how they fit together [and] how they lead,” the official added.

So far, Russia has announced the death of only one commander, Major General Andrey Sukhovetsky, a veteran of the wars in Chechnya, Georgia, and the 2014 annexation of Crimea, who was killed in fighting just four days after the invasion. Russian President Vladimir Putin also would have fired deputy force chief Rosgvardia, the Russian equivalent of the US National Guard, for leaking information and wasting fuel.

“There’s direction from above: you better get your ass out and move on, otherwise,” said James Foggo, a retired four-star admiral who commanded the US Navy’s 6th Fleet, responsible for Europe and Africa, and who now leads the United States Navy League’s Center for Maritime Strategy think tank. “Their military chain of command is a very threatening environment. Either you perform, or you find yourself replaced or unemployed, or worse.

US and Western intelligence agencies have noted some degradation of Russian command and control capability, linked to the logistical problems faced by Russian troops throughout the war, which could lead to the death of Russian generals in greater number. Russia would also have lost a large number of field commanders in addition to fallen generals.

“It’s a bigger problem if you lose unit commanders because then it’s harder to bring someone in and take over,” said Rob Lee, senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute who has previously served in the US Marine Corps.

Only one American general has been killed in a war zone since the Vietnam War: Major General Harold Greene, who was killed in an insider attack when an Afghan soldier opened fire on a delegation in visit to a US base in 2014. Another, Lt. Gen. Timothy Maude was killed at the Pentagon during 9/11 when a hijacked airliner crashed into the building. But there have been close calls: General Austin “Scott” Miller drew his handgun in an insider attack that killed two Afghan security officials in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province in 2018, but he escaped unscathed.

The European diplomat who spoke with Foreign Police said Russian generals sometimes went further into the field to deal with disciplinary issues, such as Russian conscripts looting stores and homes for food. Current and former US officials have said Russia’s lack of a professional corps of non-commissioned officers – who enforce discipline in Western armies – has led to some of the war crimes that have erupted on social media.

“It is the mark of an undisciplined and unprofessional army, badly led and badly trained, and to compensate for that, [they] push the generals into the field,” said Foggo, the retired US admiral. “They’re out there and they’re sort of getting by. This breaks down into an unruly mob.



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