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Why Are So Many Russian Generals Getting Killed in Ukraine?

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The image known as "Saint Javelin" depicts a saint with a Javelin anti-tank missile in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, March 25, 2022. (AP/Rodrigo Abd)
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On Friday, Ukrainian officials said that a seventh Russian general had died in the war that began on Feb. 24.

The slain commander was identified as Lt. Gen. Yakov Vladimirovich Rezantsev of the 49th Combined Arms Army of the Southern Military District of Russia.

Meanwhile, Russia has confirmed the death of just one general, Maj. Gen. Andrei Sukhovetsky. The local Russian government in the port of Novorossiysk said on its website that Sukhovetsky had previously served in Syria, the North Caucasus, and Abkhazia.

High Death Rate Among Russian Command Staff

Russia clearly has underestimated Ukraine’s resolve to defend its homeland and the quality of that country’s military defenses.

According to Foreign Policy, “The tally of Russian generals killed in the nearly monthlong conflict — most of them one- and two-star commanders, including at least one lieutenant general — is likely the highest death rate among general officers in the Russian military since World War II.”

Placing Russian military leaders in harm’s way, multiple sources say, are continual communications failures.

“They’re struggling on the front line to get their orders through,” a European diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss recent battlefield intelligence, told Foreign Policy. “They’re having to go to the front line to make things happen, which is putting them at much greater risk than you would normally see.”

Read CNN’s “Inside a Rare US Meeting With a Russian General in Moscow” at this link.

Russian Generals Forced to Front Lines

A lack of discipline among Russia’s conscripted soldiers and that country’s top-down military leadership structure also are forcing generals to lead from the front lines.

A senior foreign diplomat in Moscow told Reuters: “For me what is important is the reported heavy casualties at colonel and above, the backbone of the Russian army, not just generals,”

The diplomat said the Russian army lacks Western-style junior officers.

“There are too many colonels, too few corporals. So what happens is tasks requiring resolution, which in the West would be resolved at much lower levels, get passed up the chain for decision,” the source said.

Learn More

Read more from Foreign Policy at this link.

The Reuters story is at this link.

 

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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