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Russian officials confirm senior naval officer killed in Mariupol fighting

MOSCOW — A deputy commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet was killed in combat in the besieged port city of Mariupol during what Moscow calls its military operation in Ukraine, officials say today.

“Captain 1st Rank Andrei Nikolayevich Paly was killed in the fighting to liberate Mariupol from Ukrainian Nazis,” the governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev says on Telegram.

Sevastopol is a port city in Crimea — annexed by Moscow from Ukraine in 2014 — and the base of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

Paly was an “open and decent person” and “enjoyed great authority in the fleet,” Razvozhayev adds.

Yekaterina Altabaeva, Sevastopol’s lawmaker in the Russian upper parliamentary house, also confirms the death.

“Sevastopol has suffered a heavy, irreparable loss,” Altabaeva says on Telegram, adding that Paly had died during “battles for the liberation of Mariupol from Nazis.”

There is no immediate confirmation from Russia’s defense ministry.

Russia, which has been conducting a military operation in Ukraine since February 24, has insisted that its neighbor never join NATO, and has also called for its “demilitarization” and “denazification.”

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