Russia has lost its 13th commander with the killing of one of its Colonel Sergei Sukharev as the war with Ukraine enters its fourth week. According to reports, Sukharev, the commander of the 331st Guards Parachute Assault Regiment from Kostroma was killed in fierce fighting along with four other members of the regiment.
News of Sukharev's death was also confirmed by Russian state-run television and radio company GTRK Kostroma. However, it is not known when and where he was exactly killed. This comes as Russia continues to face severe resistance from Ukrainian forces without much success almost a month after the country was attacked on February 25.
Another one Bites the Dust
According to the Center for Strategic Communication and Information Security, citing an officer and military blogger Anatoliy Shtefan, Ukrinform reported that Sukharev, who had led the paratroop unit since last year, was killed in action alongside Captain Alexei Nikitin, Senior Sergeant Sergei Lebedev, Sergeant Alexander Limonov, and Corporal Yuri Degtyarev.
"Commander of the Kostroma Airborne Regiment, Colonel Sergei Sukharev...got lost in the '[military] exercises', but returned home the right way," read a statement from Ukraine.
Sukharev's death is a major blow to the Russian air force given that he was believed to be one of Putin's "elite" commanders and was responsible for carrying out multiple air raids since the day Russia invaded Ukraine.
According to a previous Telegram post from Ukraine's Center for Strategic Communication and Information Security, it was initially reported that Sukharev was killed by Ukrainian troops along with his deputy. However, it was later confirmed that four other soldiers also died alongside Sukharev.
Ukrainian Resistance Continues
Sukharev's death is also a strategic victory for the Ukrainians given that his regiment had fought against Ukraine outside the city of Ilovaisk in Donbas back in 2014 and also took part in both Chechen wars and the Russian-Georgian war of 2008.
In January, Sukharev was seen on Russian television leading his troops back from Kazakhstan, where they had been dispatched in response to a wave of protests. Sukharev said his men defended a key power facility in Almaty, and Russians defined their role as "peacekeeping."
Also killed in the latest Ukrainian fighting was military intelligence officer Sergey Vishnyakov, of the GRU's 22nd Separate Special Forces Brigade. He is thought to have been killed in a Grad attack by Ukraine's Azov battalion near Mariupol.
This comes as Russian forces continue to suffer heavy loss in the hands of Ukrainian forces. Russia has suffered significant losses, with estimates of 1,380 Russian military vehicles destroyed (598), damaged (20), abandoned (211), or captured by Ukrainian forces based solely on visual evidence (551).
News of Sukharev's killing in the hands of Ukrainian forces comes after president Volodymyr Zelensky's security council, Oleksiy Danilov, last week said that "about eight" Russian commanders had been ousted since the crisis began, as Moscow hurried to shift strategy after its attempted "shock and awe" assault failed.
Putin was also claimed to be furious at leaders of the FSB security service, which he used to lead, for providing him with intelligence implying that Ukraine was weak, infested with neo-Nazi groups, and would surrender easily if attacked.