An eighth Russian colonel has reportedly been killed in Ukraine as Vladimir Putin’s troops continue to be hit by major setbacks more than a month into the war.
Colonel Denis Kurilo was “liquidated” by Ukraine soldiers amid fighting near Kharkiv earlier this week, the Ukrainian military said.
Western officials believe that around 20 Russian generals were deployed to Ukraine, meaning that if all the reported deaths are confirmed, nearly half have been killed in action since the invasion started on 24 February.
Mr Kurilo was in charge of the 200th separate motorized rifle brigade and had been leading Russia’s push into Ukraine’s second-largest city.
The mostly Russian-speaking urban center has come under heavy bombardment by Kremlin troops but remains under the control of Ukraine.
Russia’s invasion has not gone to plan and is believed to have progressed far more slowly than the Kremlin had anticipated.
Mr Kurilo is the latest high profile military figure to have been wiped out.
Russia has lost between 7,000 and 15,000 troops since the fighting first broke out on 24 February, western military officials believe.
Ukraine said 1,500 of those losses occurred when two battalion groups in the 200th brigade were destroyed.
It was also revealed that Lieutenant Colonel Dmitry Dormidontov was killed last week and his funeral was held in Russia on Wednesday.
A source in the Tatarstan region of Russia said: “Commander of the rocket artillery division, Lt-Col Dmitry Pavlovich Dormidontov, died while on duty.
“An enemy mine hit exactly in his dugout, where there were three officers: a division commander, a battalion commander and an aircraft controller.”
Fierce fighting has continued in several cities and areas across Ukraine in recent days despite the promise of peace talks on Tuesday.
Russian forces pounded areas around Ukraine’s capital and another city overnight, regional leaders said on Wednesday, just hours after Moscow pledged to scale back military operations in those places.
The shelling further tempered optimism about any progress in talks aimed at ending the punishing war.
Russia did not spell out what exactly it planned to do differently, and while the promise initially raised hopes that a path toward peace was coming into view, Ukraine’s president and others cautioned that the remarks could merely be bluster and the Kremlin’s spokesman said he saw no breakthrough in the talks.
Ukrainian officials said Russian shelling hit homes, shops, libraries and other “civilian infrastructure” in the northern city of Chernihiv and on the outskirts of the capital, Kyiv.
The barrages came as the UK’s Ministry of Defense warned that while heavy losses have forced some Russian units to return to Belarus and Russia, Moscow would likely compensate for any reduction in ground maneuvers by using mass artillery and missile strikes.
The Ukrainian military, meanwhile, said Russian troops were intensifying their attacks around the eastern city of Izyum and the eastern Donetsk region, after redeploying some units from other areas.
As the war unleashed five weeks ago by Moscow ground on, so, too, did the fallout beyond Ukraine’s borders.
The UN said the number of refugees fleeing the country has now surpassed a staggering four million, while European industrial powerhouse Germany issued a warning about its natural gas supplies amid concerns that Russia could cut off deliveries unless it is paid in rubles.