A Definite Trend

Russia has a serious problem. Their high-ranking officers are being killed right and left by Ukrainian forces. The latest to be killed in the intense fighting was Lt. Col. Vyacheslav Savinov, the 40-year-old Russian head of artillery intelligence. We didn’t even know artillery “intelligence” was a thing. Presumably, it means identifying military targets for their rockets and artillery and given the numerous reports of Russian artillery shelling civilian areas, they aren’t very good at it.

Here he is looking rather smug, not so much now. Lt. Col Savinov was killed during intense fighting with Ukrainian troops last month. Image Credit: standard.co.uk
The smiling and seemingly affable Lt. Col Savinov was killed during intense fighting with Ukrainian troops last month. Image Credit: standard.co.uk

Savinov was Deputy Chief of Staff of Russian Missile Troops and Artillery in Ukraine.  He was also head of artillery reconnaissance for the 49th Combined Arms Army. Colonel Savinov is believed to have been killed in the south of the country, but details of his death are sketchy.

We do know that he had previously served in Syria and that he was married with two sons. Russian news reported that he had received two orders of courage from his government. They said he “died heroically” in Russia’s “special military operation.” Apparently, they are STILL not calling what they’ve done to Ukraine a “war.”

His funeral was held without publicity in late March as the Kremlin seems to want to keep the deaths of their officers(and enlisted men) as quiet as possible.

A Trail of Dead Russian Officers

Savinov is the 32nd Russian colonel or lieutenant colonel to be killed in the war in Ukraine, highlighting the mounting losses to Vladimir Putin’s forces during the invasion. It’s getting hard to keep an accurate body count at this point. It seems one is falling every other day or so.

Additionally, seven Russian generals were killed by the Ukrainians.

People walk past a destroyed Russian military vehicle in Irpin, Ukraine. Image Credit: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

The Washington Examiner, among other sources, is reporting that at least 20% of Russian combat forces killed in Ukraine are officers. This is an incredibly high percentage. An analysis of the 1,083 dead soldiers confirmed by the Kremlin (the actual number killed is many thousands higher) includes 31 majors and over 100 officers holding the rank of captain or below. The Kremlin has a policy of downplaying military casualties with a 2015 decree declaring all deaths in conflict a state secret, and last year any statements discrediting the military were criminalized with prison sentences as long as 15 years upon conviction.

Ukraine has estimated that 18,900 Russian soldiers have died since the beginning of the war. However, Russia has called the Ukrainian numbers inflated.

The bodies (or ashes) of the dead have quietly been returned to their homeland, with burials and memorial services being reported weeks after the fact.  Once the fog of war lifts a little and the real numbers begin to leak out, we’ll probably see these figures go much higher. It’s no secret that the Ukrainian military has been targeting Russian officers in an attempt to break command and control authority over a seemingly demoralized Russian army.

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