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Russian brigade commander killed by his own forces – POLITICO

LONDON — A Russian brigade commander was killed by his own forces in another indication of seething discontent among Russian forces stationed in and around Ukraine, Western officials said.

The colonel, commander of the 37th Motorized Rifle Brigade, was run over by an armored vehicle and suffered serious injuries to both legs.

“We believe the brigade commander was killed by his own troops as a result of the level of casualties his brigade suffered,” an official said. “We believe he was deliberately killed by his own troops. We believe he was run over by his own troops.”

The confirmation followed a Facebook post Office on Wednesday by prominent Ukrainian journalist and YouTuber Roman Tsimbalyuk, who said troops were angered by the 50 percent casualty rate at the unit stationed in the Kyiv region. A soldier driving an armored vehicle deliberately ran over the commander, who was shown in video posts being stretchered to neighboring Belarus for treatment. He is said to have died later.

The Western official also confirmed Ukrainian reports that a lieutenant general commanding the 49th Combined Arms Army died in the fighting, making him the seventh Russian general to be killed in action since the invasion began.

The spokesman for the President of Ukraine Oleksiy Arestovych earlier called the lieutenant general as Yakov Ryazantsev and said he was killed at Chernobaevka airfield outside the southern city of Kherson – where Russian forces have suffered repeated casualties in their breakout campaign from the Crimea peninsula in the northwest.

Russian forces struggled with logistical supplies and food shortages in the first month of their invasion of Ukraine. Soldiers captured by Ukrainian forces have told their captors they were led to believe they were conducting exercises near the Ukrainian border rather than embarking on a war.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said earlier that the first phase of its military operation in Ukraine was mostly complete and it would focus on the complete “liberation” of the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine.

The Western official said Russia “recognizes that it cannot conduct its operations on multiple axes simultaneously” and is trying to focus its forces on a more limited number of approaches, both in terms of logistical supplies and firepower.

At the start of the war, the West estimated that Russia had between 120 and 150 tactical battalion groups stationed in Ukraine, but about 20 of these are now considered incapacitated. Some are withdrawn to Russia for maintenance or repair; others have suffered heavy casualties and in some cases formed a group with other groups, the western official said.

The Russians appear to have halted their operations in Kyiv and other areas to limit logistical supplies needed there, and are keeping forces in those areas in defensive positions with the aim of making the best possible effort in the Donbass region, the same official added.

Focusing on the Donbass would allow Russia to concentrate air forces and indirect fire on more limited areas, making it more difficult for Ukrainians who have been “remarkably adept” at deploying air defense capabilities, the official said. Recent Ukrainian victories on the ground cannot yet be seen as a “turning of the tide,” they added.

Additional reporting by Douglas Busvine.

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