Vladimir Putin has reportedly lost his 39th and 40th colonels in the Ukraine war, adding to Russia’s mounting losses in the conflict.
Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Blinov’s death was confirmed on Monday, when a photo emerged of his picture on a grave in Volgograd, south-western Russia.
Russian officials had previously denied that the colonel, who served as a commander in a motorised rifle unit, had been killed.
Mr Blinov was a married father-of-three and a family friend confirmed the news to a local paper, saying: “Unfortunately, today it became known about the death of my friend Sasha Blinov in Ukraine. For us, it’s just a shock.”
He would be the 40th colonel to have died in the war.
That news came after the reported death of Russia’s 39th colonel, Fezul Bichikaev – an elite soldier who allegedly died on a secret intelligence mission.
A military expert, Oleg Marzoev, reportedly told a local news website that Mr Bichikaev acted with “self-sacrifice and heroism”.
He was one of Russia’s youngest colonels and was killed near Kharkiv, local media reported.
Earlier, it was reported that Lieutenant Colonel Fyodor Evgenievich Solovyov had become the 38th Russian colonel to have died in the war in Ukraine.
A Russian report said that the 44-year-old was a commander of a howitzer self-propelled artillery regiment and that he was awarded the Order of Courage.
Russia’s battlefield losses and demonstrable operational failings stopped President Putin from announcing a success in the war at the Victory Day parade, the British defence ministry has claimed.
“Russia’s underestimation of Ukrainian resistance and its ‘best case scenario’ planning have led to demonstrable operational failings, preventing President Putin from announcing significant military success in Ukraine at the 9 May Victory Day parade,” the ministry claimed in an intelligence update.
It added that Russia’s invasion plan was “highly likely” to have been based on the assumption that it would encounter limited resistance during the invasion of Ukraine.