Wednesday, 24 Apr 2024

Fresh blow for Putin as Ukraine counteroffensive leaves top Russian general dead

Vladimir Putin is facing fresh woes after one of his generals was killed in a missile attack.

Major-general Sergey Goryachev, 52, died during fighting in the Zaporizhzhia region, which has recently seen major action in Ukraine’s counter-offensive.

Goryachev was chief of staff of the Russian 35th Combined Arms Army and is one of 11 generals to be officially classed as casualties in the war – the first this year.

Pro-Moscow war correspondent Yuri Kotenok wrote yesterday: ‘War takes the best. The army lost one of the brightest and most effective military leaders, who combined the highest professionalism with personal courage.

‘Combat friends express their condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.’

Several pro-war military channels have admitted Putin’s soldiers are taking a hit now that Kyiv’s long-awaited counter-offensive has begun.

This includes Kotenok, who said Russia’s forces were facing ‘heavy fighting along almost the entire line of military contact’.



Just this morning, Russia suffered a major explosion at a key oil refinery inside its own borders in the city of Krasnodar.

Footage shows the diesel processing facility in flames, with thick noxious black smoke coming from it.

Krasnodar is a key link in Putin’s war effort and a hub for supplying occupied Crimea.

Putin’s £1 billion clifftop palace with an underground bunker, pole-dancing boudoir, and vineyard – is less than 80 miles away from the blast.

The suspected drone attack was reported by local Kuban News, which said more than 130 firefighters were called to the scene.

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Also this morning, Ukrainian official Serhiy Lysak said at least three people were killed and 25 wounded in a Russian missile attack in President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hometown – the city of Kryvyi Rih, in the Dnipro region.

Lysak, the head of the regional administration, said the strike hit a five-storey residential building early on Tuesday and the area was engulfed in fire. Rescue missions are still ongoing.

Over the weekend, Putin and defence minister Sergei Shoigu awarded medals to wounded soldiers in a Moscow hospital and acknowledged the heavy toll Russia has suffered in the war.

But Putin had previously insisted on Friday that ‘all counter-offensive attempts made so far have failed’ – although he did go on to add the ‘offensive potential of the troops of the Kyiv regime’ still exists.

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Moscow’s defence ministry previously said Ukraine had lost around 1,200 fighters, 40 tanks and several aircraft in the space of 24 hours, but it did not detail Russia’s losses.

At the time Kyiv did not challenge these assertions, saying the start of the counter-offensive would not be announced.

But, on Saturday, President Zelensky confirmed the long-awaited military plan was under way.

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Yesterday, Ukraine claimed it had retaken three villages in what it dubbed its first victories since the counter-offensive began.

Footage on social media shows Ukrainian troops celebrating in Blahodatne and Neskuchne – which is believed to mean that they have taken back control of the small villages in the Donetsk region.

The state border guard also published videos showing Kyiv’s forces announcing ‘Neskuchne of the Donetsk region is under the Ukrainian flag again’ before shouting the now standard battle cry of ‘Glory to Ukraine’.

Kyiv’s deputy defence minister, Hannah Maliar, said nearby Makarivka was also rescued.

While the capture of the three villages marks the biggest advance in recent days, the settlements are relatively small. Blahodatne had a pre-war population of just 1,000 residents.

But the village sits on the road towards the city of Mariupol, and some analysts have suggested Ukraine could seek to recapture the port city in the coming months.

Others have speculated Kyiv wants to break the land bridge between occupied Crimea and Donetsk, isolating Russian troops on the peninsula.

Moscow is yet to confirm the fall of any of the villages, instead speaking of repelling Ukrainian assaults in the region.

Elsewhere, Ukraine says Russia has blown up another dam in the Zaporizhzhia region, following the destruction of the major Kakhovka dam last week.

This caused widespread flooding with 4,000 people forced to evacuate, Mr Zelensky said on Sunday.

Ukraine claim the dam was blown up by Russian forces, who have controlled it since February 2022.

Valeriy Shershen, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian military, said Russia was deliberately blowing up dams in the region to halt their advance towards occupied areas.

Russia has denied it blew up the Kakhovka dam and has blamed Ukraine instead.

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