A Russian brigade commander fighting in Ukraine has been killed by his own troops, according to Western officials.
Colonel Medvechek, commanding the 37th Motor Rifle Brigade, is believed to have been deliberately run down over anger at the number of casualties his unit was taking.
“The brigade commander was killed by his own troops and killed by his own troops, we believe, as a consequence of the scale of losses that have been taken by his brigade,” one official said. “We believe that he was run over by his own troops.”
And they added: “That just gives an insight into some of the challenges that Russian forces are having.”
Colonel Medvechek is believed to have been targeted after Russian soldiers’ morale plummeted to an all time low, with the official noting Moscow’s forces had unexpectedly “found themselves in a hornets’ nest and are suffering really badly” due to ongoing logistical and military issues.
If confirmed, the commander’s death is one of the most compelling pieces of evidence yet that Russian president Vladimir Putin’s war is not going to plan.
The same official said that a lieutenant general commanding the 49th Combined Arms Army also recently died in the fighting. It makes him the seventh Russian general to be killed in combat since Russia’s war on Ukraine began - more than a third of those deployed at the start of the operation.
Nato has estimated that in four weeks of fighting, between 7,000 and 15,000 Russia troops have been killed. Though Russia’s latest death toll had the number of its soldiers killed at 1,351, according to Sergei Rudskoi, head of the Russian General Staff’s Main Operational Directorate, and 3,825 injured.
One Western official said that of the 115 to 120 battalion tactical groups the Russians had at the start of the war, 20 were no longer “combat effective”.
“After a month of operations to have somewhere in the region of a sixth, maybe even a fifth, of the forces being no longer effective, that is a pretty remarkable set of statistics,” they added.
The news came as Putin decided to “pause” his multiple attempts to take Kyiv in order to concentrate his forces on the Donbas region in the east of Ukraine.
While the advance faltered, though, men are said to have become angry at the number of deaths being recorded in a war that has so far “not been successful,” according to officials.
“It’s clear Russia is recognising that it can’t pursue its options on multiple axis simultaneously,” one official noted.
However, they warned the West should not be “getting ahead of ourselves” in believing Russian setbacks are a sign troops cannot come back harder.
“What we’re not seeing is a turning of the tide,” the official added.
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