In more bad news for Vladimir Putin, Russia has lost another general, plus seven elite SWAT fighters from the feared Dzerzhinsky Division during their invasion of Ukraine.
The sour news comes after a top Russian airman warned that his country’s forces have suffered losses on a scale that will “horrify” people when the figure – now a closely guarded secret – is revealed.
Captain Alexander Garnaev – a famous military test pilot and recipient of the Kremlin’s highest honour, the Hero of Russia award – denounced the “completely incomprehensible” war before another top general was killed.
Major-General Oleg Mityaev, 47, commander of the army’s feared 150th motorised rifle division, was killed in the storming of Mariupol, say the Ukrainians.
A picture of the corpse of the decorated military officer, a father-of-two, was released by Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko.
He is the fourth Russian general to die in the war, according to Kyiv.
However, in trademark Kremlin style, Moscow has only confirmed the death of one general, and has not commented on the reports about Mityaev.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reported the death of another Russian general in his nighttime address but did not name him.
A mourning picture was released in Russia showing the photographs of six elite “maroon beret” special forces fighters from the Vityaz Special Purpose Centre of the Dzerzhinsky Division, named after Soviet secret police founder Felix Dzerzhinsky.
It was later revealed that a seventh had been slain.
Of these men, only four have been named.
Major Viktor Maksimchuk, 44, was commander of a motorised rifle regiment, who also died in fighting near Mariupol.
The father and grandfather’s funeral is due today in Krasnodar region.
Mikhail Belyakov, a 30-year-old sergeant from Penza region, was awarded the Order of Courage posthumously.
He was a father of two.
Belyakov was killed in Ukraine on 27 February but in common with other announcements of Russian fatalities, they are being made with a time delay of around two weeks.
Also killed was Alexey Blinkov, a graduate of the Novosibirsk Institute of National Guard Troops.
The fourth SWAT fighter to be named was Maxim Pustozvonov, a native of Samara region.
The body of another Russian soldier Aslanbek Mukhtarov was reported to have been found on the battlefield two-and-a-half weeks after he died.
Air force pilot Captain Alexey Belkov was killed when his plane was downed.
Two others from the same city, Bratsk, in Siberia, who had been moved 3,500 miles to fight in the war – Ilya Kubik, 18, and Pyotr Tereshonok.
“I bow my head before the valour of our soldiers and officers,” said the city’s mayor.
Respected test pilot Garnaev quit from a number of positions over the “completely incomprehensible” war.
A Hero of Russia and Honoured Test Pilot, he launched a scathing attack on the way Ukrainian cities have been “bombed and crushed with tanks”.
His opposite number in Ukraine, Alexander Galunenko, had seen the giant An-225 Mriya aircraft bombed “before his eyes”.
Now he is cowering in his cellar as his house is “constantly bombed and shelled”.
He hinted at dissent in Russian ranks.
“It is unbearable for me to see how much our men – including those I know personally – suffer. This is unbearable for me.”
And he warned: ‘Sooner or later society will know the final number of losses…
“Society will be horrified.”
He quit as chairman of the board of Russia’s Club of Heroes.
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