Three months into the war in Ukraine, Russia lost a surprisingly high number of high-ranking military officials during the fighting. The Kremlin has yet again lost another general amid the line of fire. Major General Andrei Simonov is the 9th Russian general killed in Ukraine.
Simonov, the commander of Russia’s electronic warfare units in the 2nd Combined Arms Army, has been reported to be killed by the Ukrainians during a Ukrainian artillery strike near Izyum, Ukraine. The kill was reported by Ukrainian Presidential Adviser Alexey Arestovych on a YouTube live stream, citing military sources. The Ukrainian National Guard also reported that the general had been killed.
At just 55, Simonov is the youngest Russian general to be eliminated by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, who have thus far made good use of Western intel to track these high-ranking Russian officials.
The general, a Kirov native who graduated from the Tomsk Higher Military Command School of Communications, was also reported to be the former cyber commander of the Western Military District. The loss of the general in charge of cyber intelligence will be particularly galling to the Russian army and Putin.
It was reported that Simonov died during a Russian offensive into areas in Kharkiv, to which they have had minimal success so far. Ukrainians held their positions, defending the city with as much resistance as they did during the first portion of the invasion.
A Ukrainian artillery strike on the Izyum command post last April 29 was reported to be the attack where the General had been killed. Videos of the strike from what appeared to be Grad rockets also circulated online. A similar report from the Ukrainian National Guard reported that they spotted the general in the command post. It was also reported that some 30 Russian tanks and vehicles were destroyed in the process. Along with the vehicles, 100 Russian troops were also said to be killed during the strike.
The use of Grad rockets suggests the mission was not planned very far in advance. The Grad is an area effect weapons system and not a precision strike weapon. In the video, you can see that the rockets hit a pretty wide area of approximately 1,000 yards in and around the command post. We imagine that Ukraine learned that these two generals(and their large staffs) would be visiting the front and were looking for them with drones in the air and Ukraine Special Forces elements on the ground. They probably arrived at the command post in a fairly large convoy of vehicles which was a sure sign that high-ranking officers were present at the command post. Rather than fire one or more precision-guided missiles like the Tochka U on them which would take time to get set up for launch, they hit it from 10-15 miles away with a barrage of Grad rockets instead. They may have also used the Grad because the launch of several Tochka U’s 150 miles away would have been detected by Russia giving them several minutes to send an alert to the command post to take cover or evacuate it. The Grad is so common over there that even if Russia detected the launch they might have mistook it for another rocket barrage instead of a targeted strike on the command post.
We won’t lecture the Russian army about locating important command posts within range of the enemy’s rockets and artillery here because they may have thought they were in a safe area. The Grad is a very mobile system that sits on a 6 by six truck chassis and may have been moved closer to the front lines just for this mission. Afterward, they can bug out pretty quick too at speeds on paved roads of nearly 50 mph.
It is important to note that these reports cannot be independently verified as of writing, and the video shown below also cannot be geolocated as of this time.
Ukrainian sources claim that this artillery strike on the 2nd Guards Combined Arms Army (2nd CAA) Command post near Izyum, Kharkiv Oblast, killed Major General Andrey Simonov along with the destruction of more than 30 pieces of Russian military equipment. #Ukraine pic.twitter.com/G9OU3Tlm3n
— Hollowbyte (@Anapurnaiii) April 30, 2022
Reports have also surfaced that the Chief of Staff of the Russian Army, Valery Gerasimov, was also wounded in the Ukrainian artillery strikes. According to a report by the Daily Mail, a Russian source reported to them that Gerasimov sustained a shrapnel wound in his upper right leg without a bone fracture. He survived the blast with no danger to his life. Gerasimov has reportedly flown back to Russia away from the frontlines for further treatment.
This reveals two vital things about the Russian forces. We need to ask why there was a need to deploy two Russian generals at the same time to the frontlines where fighting had been very intense. Second, how did the Ukrainians know there would be two generals in Izyum?
SOFREP has previously pointed out that the likely reason these generals would be out on the frontlines is that the invasion had not been going to their plans. It can be hypothesized that the slow movement of the Russian forces to capture the Donbas region was a method to secure the areas completely without being too reckless as they had been in the first portion of the war. However, it can also be the case that the Russian forces are going too slow without anything to show for it – no goals they could show to the “top” people over at their headquarters, and more so, Putin himself. It also does not help that intel suggests that Putin wants to end his war in Ukraine on May 9th, in time for the Victory Day Parade.
We have noticed a marked increase in reported casualties to Russian forces as their new offensive seems to have stalled in Donbas.
In fact, Russian sources reported that Putin had personally sent Gerasimov to Eastern Ukraine to take control of the push, possibly to ensure victory, but clearly, this was not the case as he was wounded.
Two generals at the frontlines like that, with faulty communications that could easily be tapped or jammed, and with the Ukrainians armed with the assistance of western intelligence, and you have a recipe for disaster for the Russians.
In previous reports, SOFREP pointed out that the Russian forces were using local sim cards and VHF/UHF radios that could have been helpful to the Ukrainians in locating their forces as these communications could be intercepted. More so, signals from local sim cards could help find the exact location of the users.
In fact, it was this usage of local sim cards and faulty radios that had killed Major General Vitaly Gerasimov, who is believed to be related to General Valery Gerasimov. Gerasimov was killed on March 7th (or 8th) because of the failure of the Russian forces to secure the area and because of their rudimentary communication.
It is also possible that the Ukrainians have received vital intelligence from the West to aid their targeting of these generals. In fact, the US is not only supplying Ukraine with weapons but with considerable intelligence as well. Washington has confirmed that it has been expanding its intelligence sharing about Russian forces to ensure that the Ukrainians operate with “timely intelligence” to repel the Russian forces. This assistance would be in the areas of satellite imagery and signal intelligence.
“As the conflict evolves, we continue to adjust to ensure that operators have the flexibility to share detailed, timely intelligence with the Ukrainians,” a US intelligence official said to Financial Times.
Even Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed this intelligence sharing with Ukraine during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last April 7th. He was asked by Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas’ Republican representative, whether the US was supplying intel to Ukraine regarding Crimea and Donbas.
“We are providing them intelligence to conduct operations in the Donbas, that’s correct,” he said. However, he did not mention whether the US was supplying intel with regard to Crimea.
“We continue to provide useful information and intelligence to the Ukrainian Armed Forces in their fight,” a senior defense official said. “As that fight migrates more to the Donbas region, we will adjust our information content and flow as required.”
Here’s a summarized list of Russian generals who have been killed so far. We will continue to update this list as the war continues:
- General Magomed Tushaev – The Chechen special forces general who led the 141 motorized regiment of the Chechnya National Guard was killed on February 26th. He was part of the Chechen forces column of 56 tanks that was ambushed by the Ukrainian forces nearby Hostomel.
- Major General Andrei Sukhovetsky – Sukhovetsky was the deputy commander of the 41st Combined Arms Army of the Central Military District and the former commander of the 7th Air Assault Division of Russia’s airborne forces. He was killed on March 4 by a sniper due to the carelessness of his troops, as they did not sweep the area. Note that the Russians have been known to have faulty communication systems and have been using local sim cards and UHF/VHF radio communications that are easy to compromise. This might have played a role in locating the general.
- Major General Vitaly Gerasimov – The general who served as first deputy commander of Russia’s 41st Army was killed on March 7 (or 8, reports vary) in Kharkiv. He was said to be using a local sim card which enabled the Ukrainians to locate him, and was subsequently assassinated.
- Major General Andrey Kolesnikov – He was the commander of the 29th Combined Arms Army. How he died is not exactly known. However, his death was confirmed on March 11.
- Major General Oleg Mityaev – He was the commander of the 150th Motorized Rifle Division. He was said to be killed in Mariupol on March 16 as he was tasked with revitalizing the invasion campaign on the city as the Russian forces had failed to do so in a month’s worth of fighting. The city is also said to be the most destroyed in Ukraine as of writing due to the sheer amount of bombardment campaigns done on the city. His body was said to be found in a factory in Mariupol and was subsequently turned over to the Russians.
- Lieutenant General Andrey Mordvichev – The commander of the 8th Army of the Southern Military District, was killed in Kherson on March 19th.
- Lieutenant General Yakov Rezantsev – The 49th Combined Arms Army commander, was also killed in Kherson on March 25th.
- Major General Vladimir Frolov – He was the deputy commander of Russia’s 8th Army. His death was confirmed as his funeral was held in Russia at St. Petersburg’s Serafimovskoe Cemetery sometime in mid-April.
The losses of these high-ranking generals continue to chop away at the morale of the Russian forces, which has been observed to be at a low point since the invasion began. While there are no current reports of food and fuel shortages at the moment, unlike the first Russian campaign to Kyiv, their slow progress in capturing the Donbas region as well as having to deploy two Russian generals to the frontlines speak volumes about their morale.