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Putin’s Ukraine Problems Are Getting Worse: His Commanders Are Dying

Javelin Missile. Image Credit - Creative Commons.

The deputy commander of the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet was killed near the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol this past weekend. Captain 1st Rank Andrei Paly is the just latest senior Russian officer to be killed in the war with Ukraine.

Paly’s death was announced on Sunday by Mikhail Razvozhayev, the pro-Russian governor of the Ukrainian city of Sevastopol, via the social media platform Telegram.

“Andrei Nikolaevich chose as the mission of his life to defend the Motherland and died for our peaceful future,” Razvozhayev told the Russian news outlet MKRU.

Paly, who was 51-years old, was born in Kyiv but defected to the Russian navy in 1993 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He was appointed deputy commander of the Black Sea fleet in 2019.

Highest Ranking Officer Yet Killed

On Saturday, Ukrainian officials also announced that Lieutenant-General Andrey Mordvichev, commander of the 8th army of the Southern Military District, was killed when armed forces destroyed a command post at an airfield in Kherson, a port city in southern Ukraine.

The 46-year-old Mordvichev was the fifth Russian general officer to be killed since Russia launched its unprovoked attack on Ukraine four weeks ago. It is the greatest loss of high ranking officers for the Russian military since the Second World War, while Mordvichev was also the highest ranking military officer killed to date.

Four Major Generals have also been killed in the fighting. This includes Maj. Gen. Oleg Mityaev, the 48-year old commander of Russia’s 150th Motorized Rifle Division, who was reportedly killed while taking part in the Siege of Mariupol last week. The other Russian generals who have been killed include Maj. Gen. Andrei Sukhovetsky, Maj. Gen. Andrey Kolesnikov, Gen. Vitaly Gerasimov. Western sources have reported that 20 major generals had been deployed to Ukraine – and with Mityaev’s death, one-fifth have now been killed.

The loss of these generals has been seen as a significant public relations coup for Kyiv, which has also claimed that as many as 14,000 Russian soldiers may have been killed in the fighting. Estimates from the United States had put the losses of Russian soldiers to be closer to 7,000 as of last week – which would still account for one general officer for every 1,400 Russian soldiers.

Some Western sources have suggested that the Russian generals are being put at risk because they are being pushed closer to the front line to boost flagging morale among Russian troops. To date, Russia has reportedly lost over a dozen senior officers including colonels.

In addition to the loss of life, Moscow’s forces have reported lost 230 of his tanks, while hundreds of other vehicles have been destroyed. However, the loss of command leadership is something that can’t be easily replaced.

Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.