Vladimir Putin has lost two more colonels in Ukraine – including one of Russia’s youngest to reach such a high rank – as a video showed a Russian battalion being hit with artillery fire while attempting to rescue a casualty.
Elsewhere, in another blow to the Kremlin’s war efforts, a separate video released this week showed Ukrainian bombs destroying a Russian ammo depo in a huge ball of flames. Images released by Kyiv also appeared to show a destroyed Russian unit.
These are the latest examples of Ukraine’s forces putting up a fierce resistance against Putin’s invading forces. Moscow expected to capture Kyiv within days of invading on February 24, but its forces have instead been drawn into a protracted conflict that has resulted in tens-of-thousands Russian military losses.
The deaths of the two high-ranking military figures mean the Kremlin has seen at least 52 colonels killed during the bloody conflict.
Lt-Col Vadim Gerasimov, aged only 36, a battalion from Leningrad region, was posthumously awarded a Hero of Russia – the country’s highest honour – on Putin’s orders. His widow was also expected to receive his posthumous Order of Courage.
His funeral was being held on Thursday in Russia’s Leningrad region. A graduate of the prestigious Frunze military academy, he was the father of a daughter.
Details of his citation for the Hero of Russia award were not immediately available.
The second high-ranked officer whose death was revealed today is Colonel Ruslan Shirin, a brigade commander, who ‘heroically died in battle’.
He was chief of staff of the 336th Separate Guards Marine Brigade, part of the Baltic Fleet. He was posthumously awarded the Order of Courage.
It was not clear how and where in the Ukrainian war zone the colonels were killed.
Reports of their deaths came as a video showed a Russian battalion being shelled by Ukrainian forces as they attempted rescue a casualty.
Lt-Col Vadim Gerasimov (pictured left), aged only 36, was a battalion from Leningrad region. He was killed in Ukraine, as was Colonel Ruslan Shirin, a brigade commander (pictured right)
Pictured: Russian soldiers are seen trying to recover and injured comrade on a road in Ukraine
As the soldiers tried to drag their comrade back towards their armoured vehicle, a Ukrainian air strike landed feet away from the vehicle
Pictured: Russian soldiers are seen injured next to an armoured vehicle after Ukrainian artiller fire landed just feet away from their vehicle
The aerial footage, showing a dirt road running through some woodland, saw Russian soldiers trying to drag their fallen comrade back to what appealed to be an armoured personnel carrier.
Suddenly, a large explosion rocked the soldiers as Ukrainian artillery landed just feet away from the armoured vehicle. Smoke covered the scene as the soldiers attempted to crawl back to vehicle in a desperate attempt to escape.
Reports suggested at least one soldier was killed in the strike, and others injured.
Elsewhere, more aerial footage showed a Ukrainian attack on a Russian ammunition dump on Wednesday in Voskresenka, Zaporizhia Oblast, in Ukrainian territory that is currently held by the Russian invaders.
The attack was carried out by members of the 44th Artillery Brigade of the Ukrainian Ground Forces with the support of aerial reconnaissance by the 81st Airmobile Brigade of the Ukrainian Air Assault Forces, the 44th said.
Video of the attack showed a series of massive explosions as Ukrainian artillery hit its mark, igniting munitions inside the warehouse – some of which could be seen firing off in different directions into the air above the building.
Initial strikes appeared to only collapse the roof and cause a number of smaller fires, but as the attack continued, one huge fireball erupted from the warehouse, ripping it apart and destroying at least half the building completely.
According to the Daily Express, a 15-year-old boy used a camera drone to locate the warehouse, which in-turn allowed Ukraine’s military to target it.
The brigade said on 8th June: ‘Artillerymen of the 44th OAbr of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, with the support of aerial reconnaissance of the 81st brigade of the 5th BTGR, bombed the accumulation of enemy equipment and ammunition in the Pologovsky district.
‘It is known that Russian troops fired at three settlements in the Pologovsky district. Enemy shells hit Gulyaipole, the villages of Dobropolye and Upper Tersa.
‘Earlier, the Russian military left some positions in the Melitopol and Vasilyevsky regions. As it became known, they moved in the direction of Kherson region.’
Pictured: A warehouse in Ukraine being used by Russian forces to store ammunition, moments before it was targeted by Ukrainian artillery fire
Smoke is seen rising from the Russian ammo dump as it comes under attack by Ukainian artillery. The first strikes caused smaller explosions and fires in the warehouse
Suddenly, a huge fireball was seen erupting from the ammo dump as the aummunition inside caught fire when it came under attack by Ukrainian missiles, destroying the building
The deaths of the two colonels were revealed two days after the 50th colonel – artillery commander Lt Col Vladimir Nigmatullin, 46 – was confirmed dead.
Russia recently lost its 11th general of the conflict, Major-General Roman Kutuzov was the chief of staff of the 29th Combined Arms Army.
He was awarded a posthumous promotion to Lieutenant-General.
Some sources have claimed that Russia lost a second and more senior general – Lieutenant-General Roman Berdnikov, 47 – in the same incident in Donetsk region.
There have been claims that Ukraine has received Western intelligence assistance to target Putin’s commanders in the field, in an attempt to weaken the morale of Russian forces.
Whether or not this is the case, a large number of high ranking officers have been killed, with almost one colonel every two days in the war.
The news came after a mercenary who gained notoriety for butchering prisoners of war and civilians in the Donbas was also been killed, in another blow to Putin.
Vladimir Andonov, 44, a fighter for the shadowy Wagner Group, was shot by a sniper near Kharkiv during a reconnaissance missions on June 5, Russian media says.
Andonov was known to Russians as ‘Vakha’ or ‘the volunteer from Buryatia’ after the region he was from, but to Ukrainians as ‘the executioner’ for massacres he helped carry out during Russia’s first invasion of the country in 2014.
His death was confirmed by Zhambal-Zhamso Zhanaev, head of the region where Andonov was from, who spoke to Russian newspaper Moskovskij Komsomolets.
Artillery commander Lt Col Vladimir Nigmatullin was killed two days ago in Ukraine, become Russia’s 50th colonel casualty of the war
Vladimir a soldier with the notorious Wagner Group, was shot dead by a sniper during a reconnaissance mission near the city of Kharkiv on June 5
On Thursday, Ukrainian forces continued to fight for the industrial zone and adjacent areas in eastern the city of Sievierodonetsk, which Kyiv holds.
Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk said on Thursday that the situation is ‘difficult but manageable’, and Kyiv said Russian forces are now largely in control of the city itself.
He said defence lines were holding despite intense Russian artillery fire but that it was now impossible to evacuate people from Sievierodonetsk.
He added about 10,000 civilians remained in the city, which is now the main focus of Russia’s offensive in Ukraine.
The strategic city has become the focus of Russia’s offensive as it seeks to seize an eastern swathe of Ukraine, after being repelled from other parts of the country.
Western long-range artillery would enable Ukraine to beat back Russian forces and capture Severodonetsk within days, another regional Ukrainian official said Thursday.
‘As soon as we have long-range artillery to be able to conduct duels with Russian artillery, our special forces can clean up the city in two to three days,’ Lugansk regional governor Sergiy Gaiday said in an interview distributed on his official social media channels.
Moscow’s forces are concentrating their firepower on the strategically important industrial hub as part of efforts to capture a swathe of eastern Ukraine.
Pictured: An image released by Ukraine’s military shows Russian armoured vehicles
Pictured: A destroyed Russian tank is seen amongst the ruins of buildings in Ukraine
Pictured: Another destroyed Russian tank is seen on a road running through a Ukrainian town
Pictured: Another Russian tank is seen in Ukraine in images released by Kyiv’s armed forces
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky late Wednesday described the battle as ‘one of the most difficult’ since the start of the war.
‘Severodonetsk remains the epicentre of fighting in the Donbas,’ Zelensky said, referring to the region in eastern Ukraine that includes the provinces of Lugansk and Donetsk.
‘It is a very fierce battle, very difficult, probably one of the hardest in the course of this war,’ Zelensky said in his evening address to the nation.
Gaiday said Thursday that Ukrainian forces in the city remained ‘highly motivated’ and that ‘everyone is holding their positions’.
‘Russia is constantly shelling areas controlled by Ukrainians with artillery,’ he added.
The US and Britain have announced they are providing Kyiv with long-range precision artillery batteries, defying warnings from Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
The Lugansk region more broadly was under continued mortar, artillery and rocket attacks, the Ukrainian presidency said.
It said four people were killed and five more wounded in a Russian air strike on Toshkivka, a village around 25 kilometres south of Severodonetsk.
Russia’s offensive is now targeting the Donbas, after its forces were pushed back from Kyiv and other areas following the February 24 invasion.
The cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, which are separated by a river, were the last areas still under Ukrainian control in Lugansk.
Lysychansk remains fully under the control of the Ukrainian army but is under ‘powerful and chaotic’ shelling, Gaiday said, accusing Russian forces of deliberately targeting hospitals and humanitarian aid distribution centres.
‘The destruction is enormous,’ he added.
An emergency officer carries out work in wrecked building after shelling amid Russian attacks on Ukraine in Kharkiv, Ukraine on June 9, 2022
Smoke and dirt rise from shelling in the city of Severodonetsk during fight between Ukrainian and Russian troops in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on June 7, 2022
A view of a building partly destroyed in a shelling in Saltivka neighbourhood of Kharkiv, June 8
Part of the Donbas had already been held by pro-Russian separatists since 2014.
At the United Nations, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres added his voice to increasingly dire warnings about the war’s impact.
‘For people around the world, the war is threatening to unleash an unprecedented wave of hunger and destitution, leaving social and economic chaos in its wake,’ he said.
Severodonetsk appeared close to being captured just days ago but outgunned Ukrainian forces launched counterattacks and managed to hold out.
Lugansk regional governor Sergiy Gaiday said Western artillery would help secure a Ukrainian victory, echoing Kyiv’s repeated calls for more military aid.
‘As soon as we have long-range artillery to be able to conduct duels with Russian artillery, our special forces can clean up the city in two to three days,’ he said.
Gaiday added that Ukrainian forces in the city remained ‘highly motivated’ and that ‘everyone is holding their positions’, while describing Russian tactics as ‘very primitive.’
The United States and Britain have announced they are providing Kyiv with long-range precision artillery batteries, defying warnings from Putin.
RUSSIA’S FALLEN GENERALS
Russia has been losing generals at an alarming rate, with unconfirmed reports suggesting Western intelligence – particularly that of the United States – has been helping Ukraine target Putin’s most senior military figures in Ukraine.
Losing even two generals in a war would be considered extreme in most conflicts since the Second World War. As of June 9, 11 Russian generals have been reported dead – with rumours of a 12th.
General Magomed Tushaev: Chechen special forces leader who had led ‘anti-gay purges’ killed in an ambush near Hostomel on February 26;
Major General Andrei Sukhovetsky: Deputy commander of the 41st Combined Arms Army of the Central Military District killed during a special operation by a sniper on March 4;
General Magomed Tushaev (right) was blown up in the early stages of the war by Ukraine after they joined the Russian invasion
Major General Vitaly Gerasimov: First deputy commander of Russia’s 41st army who took part in operations in Syria and Crimea, killed in fighting around Kharkiv on March 8;
Major General Andrei Kolesnikov: Commander of the 29th Combined Army Army killed on March 11;
Major General Oleg Mityaev, died fighting near the city of Mariupol on 16 March;
Lt Gen Andrey Mordvichev, killed in the Kherson region on March 19 ;
Lt Gen Yakov Rezantsev, commander of Russia’s 49th combined army, was killed in a strike near the southern city of Kherson on March 25;
Major General Vladimir Frolov was deputy commander of the 8th Guards Army in east Ukraine;
Major General Vitaly Gerasimov (left) was first deputy commander of Russia’s 41st army, taking part in operations in Syria and Crimea. He was killed in fighting around Kharkiv on March 8
Lt Gen Yakov Rezantsev, commander of Russia’s 49th combined army. He was killed in a strike near the southern city of Kherson on March 25
Major General Anton Simonov, 55, was seen as the Russian military’s leading electronic warfare specialist. He died during an attack on a Russian army command past in northern Ukraine in early May;
Major General Kanamat Botashev, was enjoying retirement when Russian tanks rolled across the border on February 24 and had not flown since 2012. His Su-25 fighter jet was hit by a Stinger missile on May 22 in the Donbas skies, and he was unable to eject;
Major-General Roman Kutuzov was the chief of staff of the 29th Combined Arms Army. His death was confirmed on June 5, and is believed to have been slain in an ambush carried out by Ukrainian forces.
The grave of Major General Vladimir Frolov in Serafimovskoe Cemetery, St Petersburg. The circumstances of his death remain unclear
Major General Andrey Simonov (picture date unknown) was an electronic warfare commander
Russia confirmed the death of Major-General Roman Kutuzov (pictured) on Sunday