Ukraine’s military claims that at least 12 Russian generals have been killed since Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of his western neighbour on February 24. Western military experts have been stunned by the high casualty rates among the ranks of Russia’s most senior officers. A former NATO supreme allied commander for Europe said the situation is unprecedented in recent military conflicts.
Retired Admiral James Stavridis told WABC 770 AM radio: “In modern history, there is no situation comparable in terms of the deaths of generals.”
Among those to have perished are Major General Andrei Simonov, an electronic warfare expert within the 2nd Combined Arms army, Vladimir Petrovich Frolov, the deputy commander of the 8th Army, Vitaly Gerasimov, the first deputy commander of the 41st Army, and Sergei Sukharev, a top paratroop commander of the 331st Guards Parachute Assault Regiment.
A former commander of the Estonian Defence Forces believes there is a direct correlation between the the high death rates of Russian generals and morale among the soldiers.
Riho Terras told Express.co.uk: “The spirit in the Russian troops is disastrous.
“Why is it that so many high ranking commanders, generals have been killed?
“Because they need to go to the troops in the front and try and encourage them to fight and get killed themselves.
“It only shows me that the spirit is not there.”
There has been a lot of focus on the morale of Putin’s army, as Russian forces struggle to make significant headway in their military campaign in Ukraine.
In one of its bulletins from April, the Institute for the Study of War noted how the Russian military “continues to suffer from devastating morale, recruitment, and retention problems that seriously undermine its ability to fight effectively”.
Disaffection among the troops appears not to be confined to just the rank and file, with reports recently claiming that Russian officers have also staged their own protests.
A senior Pentagon official told the magazine Foreign Policy that the US had seen signs of some Russian officers refusing to obey orders or not following commands “with alacrity” in the Donbas.
“Putin has surrounded himself with ‘yes men’ so there will be nobody courageous enough to do something against him.”
It comes amid reports of further mass desertions by Russian soldiers as army morale appears to be sinking to new lows.
The Agora human rights group claimed that more than a thousand service personnel and National Guardsmen refused to go to war in Ukraine at the end of March.
Pavel Chikov, a lawyer for the group, wrote on his Telegram channel on March 27: “War refuseniks have started to come to us for help.
“We have information that more than 1,000 servicemen and National Guardsmen from seven towns have refused to fight.”