As the war rages on in the east, it seems like the Russians have not learned their lessons from their previous attempt to surround and occupy Kyiv. They allegedly lost 2 of their generals on the same day, giving us clues to how the Russians continue to face morale, communications, and security problems on the frontlines. They are the latest addition to the ever-growing list of high-ranking military officials to be killed on Ukrainian soil.
As reported by Russian state television reporter Alexander Sladkov through his Telegram channel “Reports from the militia of Novorossiya” last Sunday, Russian Major General Roman Kutuzov had been killed during a battle in the Donbas region, specifically in the village of Nikolaevka as the Russians try to secure the entirety of Luhansk as part of their revised war goals. Reports of the killing state that it was carried out somewhere between Mykolaivka and Popasna.
Reports differ regarding his function in Ukraine, but the Ukrainian military says that he was the commander of the 29th Combined Arms Army in 2019 and the commander of the 5th Combined Arms Army in 2017. Other claims state that he was the commander of the DNR’s 1st Army Corps.
“Commander of the 1st Army Corps (orcs) DynYrY, Major General Roman Kutuzov has been officially denazified and demilitarized,” the AFU StratCom Facebook page said in a post. Additionally, Sladkov indicated that Kutuzov died while “leading the attack” of his soldiers in the east. This is plausible as the Ukrainian Armed Forces reported that there were significant attacks that had been carried out in Mykolaivka and Bilohorivka in the past few days.
The second general to be killed recently was Lieutenant General Roman Berdnikov. Berdnikov is reported to be the current commander of Russia’s 29th Army. It is important to note that both generals shared the same first name and had served as the commander of the 20th Combined Arms Army. Therefore, we think that it may be the case that things have gotten lost in translation.
While it’s possible that Ukraine could have killed two generals in one day, it is also possible that translations from the field and Telegram confused the two generals as they have the same first name. In that confusion, many people may have reported that two generals were killed in Ukraine instead of just one. No detailed information is currently available to us regarding their deaths. No verifiable photographic or video evidence has surfaced; therefore, it is difficult to say whether the Ukrainians really did take out two generals in one day.
We also find it very questionable that the Russian media was quick to acknowledge the death considering that they have tried to hide the number of their casualties for the past four months. More so, why would they admit to the death of another Russian general if it just proves military analysts’ point that their invasion of Ukraine has gone horribly wrong? The lack of evidence does make us skeptical. However, the deaths of high-ranking military officers killed in Ukraine can certainly be verified through reported funerals in Russia, so we’ll be on the lookout for that.
In the case that it is real, that the Ukrainians have indeed killed two generals in one day, then it would seem to be further verification of what most of us have already known – that the Russian command and control has all but broken down. We have repeatedly said that generals only go to the front if there are problems of morale, discipline, and fighting effectiveness so severe that they can only be solved by their overall commander.
Because of the way the Russian army works replacing a general is very disruptive to the unit. Most of these high-ranking officers have an entire cadre of junior officers that follow them when they change units, officers that are relatives, and the sons of business associates and political supporters. So a new general arriving at a division may bring 30-40 other officers along with him that will replace the crony officers of the now-dead general, this will disrupt the operations of these lower echelon units until this officer settles in.
Recent intel and intercepted audio communications from the frontlines reveal that the Russians are forcibly mobilizing the local civilian population to fight in eastern Ukraine, where a fierce battle in Severodonetsk has been raging on as Russia tries to capture the entirety of Luhansk. They are being armed and equipped with old steel pot helmets from WWII and Mossen Nagant bolt action rifles that are also relics of the Second World War. It seems curious to us that Russia seems unable to provide these green conscripts with the AK-47 which is itself a dated rifle that only costs between $100-$300 to manufacture. Russia’s most modern rifle, the AK-12 is said to be in very short supply as well.
For Russia, equipping their troops with as many as four different battle rifles presents significant logistical problems, as it requires three different kinds of ammunition.
SOFREP recently reported that the Ukrainian Security Service intercepted audio from a Russian soldier recounting the story of how their entire battalion refused to fight. According to the soldier, Russian Colonel-General Valeriy Solodchuk, the commander of the 36th Army, had threatened them with a pistol to go on and fight on the frontlines despite their contracts nearly expiring. They did not want to fight anymore as they knew they were outnumbered as 215 remained of what was originally 600. Furthermore, the Russian soldier says they have a shortage of weapons to fight the Ukrainians.
While the audio cannot be independently verified, we also reported in another piece that the 113th Regiment from the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, which was stationed in Ukraine, pleaded to Russian President Vladimir Putin about sending them home. They reported that they were not equipped with proper weapons, were extremely hungry, and had no medicine to tend to their wounded.
Currently, the Russians hold 20% of Ukraine’s territory and as much as 70% of Severodonetsk. However, it is important to note that the information coming out of that region is a bit murky, with territory see-sawing back and forth between Russian and Ukrainian forces. Recent reports from Ukraine say that the Russians were forced to move back from the Severodonetsk after an attack to gain quickly stalled in the face of withering artillery fire. A pattern is emerging here of Russian attacks that gain little ground and then fall back again to repeat the process again in a couple of days. While these reversed could be the result of the fighting prowess of Ukraine’s troops it could also be that Russian units advance until they make contact and take casualties and they then withdraw telling their superiors that they were outnumbered and met with determined resistance.
With the deaths of some 10 to 12 Russian generals piling up and tons more other high-ranking military officials also reported to be dead, we can almost assess the size and scope of a Russian ground attack by how many of these high-ranking officers are killed in the fighting.