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Ukrainian Defense Forces killed Russian Major General Andrei Sukhovetsky in action earlier this week, according to Ukrainian officials and Russian media.
The circumstances of the 47-year-old’s death were not immediately clear, but Kremlin-backed Pravda said he was killed “during a special operation in Ukraine”.
According to the Russian state company TASS news agency, Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed Sukhovetsky deputy commander of the 41st Combined Arms Army of the Central Military District last year. He was also the leader of the 7th Airborne Division, had served in Syria and had received two commendations for his bravery from the Kremlin.
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“The fact is, we killed him,” Volodymyr Omelyan, a former Ukrainian infrastructure minister who joined the militia in Kyiv, told Fox News Digital on Thursday.
The United States could not immediately confirm his death, according to a senior defense official.
But multiple reports cited a post on Russian social media platform VKontakte attributed to Sergei Chipilev, a member of a group of Russian military officers.
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“With great pain we learned the tragic news of the death of our friend, Major General Andrey Sukhovetsky, on the territory of Ukraine during the special operation,” he wrote, according to a translation published by the English-speaking Russian newspaper, Pravda.ru. “We express our deepest condolences to his family. »
The Kremlin maintains that its military presence in Ukraine is a “special operation” and not an invasion or a war.
But Russian troops have attacked targets across the country since entering from the north, east and south last week. Although Ukraine’s defenses are overstaffed and outgunned, Western intelligence analysts said they appeared to have put up firmer resistance than Putin expected.
“If it’s true, it’s big,” Dan Hoffman, a former CIA officer and station chief, said of Sukhovetsky’s death.
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This could bolster the Ukrainian military’s steely resolve and represents a tactical victory.
A massive Russian military convoy appears to have stalled outside Kiev for days, bogged down by logistical problems and the Ukrainian military. But Putin’s troops seized Kherson, a port city of nearly 300,000 people. They were also shelling Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and shelling defense forces in Mariupol, another waterfront hub.
Russian troops also said they seized the area around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Zaporizhzhya, near the riverside town of Enerhodar. Reports indicate the facility is on fire.
A successful campaign in Ukraine’s southern coastal region could create a land bridge for Russian forces between the homeland and Crimea, which they have occupied since 2014. It would also cut Ukraine off from maritime navigation.
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Russia announced Wednesday morning that it had lost 498 soldiers. Ukrainian officials say the number is up to 9,000 – but they have not released figures for their own casualties.
Caitlin McFall of Fox News, Jennifer Griffin, Sarah Rumpf, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Ukrainian army kills top Russian general – Reuters