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Ukraine official: Russian army medieval, full of informers

Western official: Russian tank commander run over and killed by his own angry troops

Official says soldiers upset after unit suffers over 50% losses in combat, incident indicative of ‘morale challenges’ faced by army; 7th Russian general reported killed in fighting

A Russian colonel is seen being evacuated after reportedly being run over by his own troops angered at huge losses suffered by the brigade while fighting in Ukraine. He was reported have later died (Screencapture/Twitter)
A Russian colonel is seen being evacuated after reportedly being run over by his own troops angered at huge losses suffered by the brigade while fighting in Ukraine. He was reported have later died (Screencapture/Twitter)

A Russian colonel has been run over and killed by his own troops, apparently angry over the devastating losses the unit suffered in combat, a Western security official said during a briefing to reporters on Friday.

The official said the incident occured in Russia’s 37th Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade that had been fighting outside Kyiv.

The Western confirmation comes after a noted Ukrainian journalist Roman Tsimbalyuk posted a video on Wednesday of the colonel, identified as Yuri Medvedev, being evacuated by Russian soldiers on a stretcher.

Tsimbalyuk said the incident happened after the unit suffered over 50% losses. He reported that  Medvedev’s legs were crushed and he was taken to neighboring Belarus for treatment.

He was later reported to have died.

“We believe he was killed by his own troops deliberately as a consequence of the scale of losses that had been taken by his brigade,” the official said. “That gives an insight into some of the morale challenges that Russian forces are having.”

“They really have found themselves in a hornet’s nest and they’re suffering really badly,” the official said.

The western official also confirmed Ukrainian reports that Lieutenant General Yakov Rezantsev, who commanded the 49th Combined Arms Army had been killed in the fighting.

Rezantsev was the seventh Russian general to be killed in combat since the invasion was launched one month ago.

Among the others said to have been killed is General Magomed Tushaev, of the Chechen Special Forces deployed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Russian Army Commander General Vlaislav Yershov, of the 6th Combined Arms Army, was identified as the general sacked earlier this week by the Kremlin.

Russian Army Lt. Gen. Yakov Rezantsev. (Wikimedia Commons)

It has been reported his abrupt dismissal was due to the heavy losses and strategic failures seen during the Russian military’s month-long invasion of its neighbor.

The number of both rank-and-file Russian troops and senior officers allegedly killed in the month-long war has shocked Western military and security officials.

It has been blamed in part on communications and logistics issues, leading senior officers to use unencrypted channels which has exposed them to Ukrainian forces.

The Kremlin claimed Friday that just over 1,300 military personnel have died in the war, but estimates of four or five times that number are seen as credible in Western capitals.

Officials there believe around 20 of the 115-120 battalion tactical groups deployed by Moscow in Ukraine are “no longer combat effective” due to the losses sustained.

“After a month of operations to have somewhere in the region of perhaps a sixth… of the forces being no longer combat effective — that’s a pretty remarkable set of statistics,” the Western official said.

The reports come as Russia said the first phase of its “military operation” was over.

Giving only its second death toll of the war, the Russian army said it had suffered 1,351 fatalities in the invasion. Ukraine and Western intelligence say it is many thousands more.

In a potentially significant shift, the Russian army said the first phase of its campaign was over and its troops would now focus on the “liberation” of the Russian-speaking Donbas region in Ukraine’s east.

The announcement was widely seen as Russia signaling that it may dial back its war aims to focus on eastern Ukraine after failing to break Ukraine’s resistance.

Meanwhile, the head of Ukraine’s defense intelligence agency GUR said in an interview published Friday that the Russian army is riddled with informers and using “old methods of warfare” against Ukrainian forces.

Brigadier General Kyrylo Budanov also told US publication The Nation that a “very large number of people” have been mobilized to engage in guerrilla warfare behind Russian lines.

A Ukrainian soldier inspects a destroyed Russian APC after recent battle in Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 24, 2022. The writing made by Ukrainian soldiers reads: ‘No to War’. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Budanov said that although Ukrainian forces have held out against the Russian military for a month, the situation remains “very difficult.”

“We have large Russian forces on our territory, and they have encircled the cities of Ukraine,” he said. “As for the prospects of peace, despite the negotiations, they still remain vague and unpredictable.”

Budanov told The Nation that Ukrainian forces have benefitted from “miscalculations” by the Russians.

“Russian command has made miscalculations many times, and we use these miscalculations,” Budanov said.

“The Ukrainian army has shown that the Russian army as the second army in the world is a big myth, and it’s just a medieval concentration of manpower, old methods of warfare,” he said.

He said the Ukrainians have made effective use of informers.

“We have lots of informers within the Russian army, not only in the Russian army, but also in their political circles and their leadership,” Budanov said.

“In November, we already knew about the intentions of the Russians, and you can see that everything came through,” he said. “As for the date, it changed several times.”

He said Ukrainians were tracking Chechen forces fighting for Russia using their cellphones and human intelligence sources.

“We have many informers inside the Chechen ranks,” he said. “As soon as they start preparing any operation, we know that from our informants,” he said.

Budanov said Russian forces would also have to confront insurgents.

A man looks at the gutted remains of Russian military vehicles on a road in the town of Bucha, close to the capital Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Serhii Nuzhnenko)

“Our warriors, our servicemen, even our hunters will start hunting the aggressor, the Russian forces, with their rifles in the forests,” he said. “I should say that soon the spring will come, our forests will become green, and a real hell will open up for the aggressor.”

The Nation said the interview with the 36-year-old Budanov was conducted over an encrypted line with a translator.

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