The Russian military has reportedly lost its 40th senior officer since the invasion of Ukraine began less than two months ago.
The Ukrainian side first began reporting on Thursday that Russian Lt. Col Denis Mezhuev had been killed in fighting in Ukraine’s east. Rob Lee, a Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) fellow and frequent analyst of the conflict in Ukraine, tweeted, “Ukrainian officials are claiming that Lieutenant Colonel Denis Mezhuev, the commander of Russia’s 1st Motorized Rifle Regiment (2nd Guards Tamanskaya Motorized Rifle Division), was killed in Ukraine.”
While the Russian military has provided no official confirmation of Mezhuev’s reported death, Andrey Kovalev — a former politician and poet with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin — shared a post on social media on Wednesday mourning Mezhuev’s death.
Kovalev said Mezhuev “died a heroic death” and for his actions, is “worthy of the title of Hero of Russia,” adding, “eternal memory to the hero.”
The Daily Mail reported a Russian junior politician also commented on Mezhuev’s reported death, saying, “Denis Mezhuev died in battle. His son can be proud of his dad.”
The Russian language news site Don Press also shared a report of Mezhuev’s death, citing a Ukrainian official by the name of Yuri Mysyagin.
If the claims of Mezhuev and other Russian military leaders’ deaths are accurate, he would be the 40th senior military leader to be killed in less than two months of fighting in Ukraine. According to the Daily Mail, there have been seven Russian generals and 33 colonels and lieutenant colonels killed in the fighting so far.
The Russian generals reportedly killed include Maj. Gen. Andriy Kolesnikov, who commanded Russia’s 29th Combined Arms Army; Maj. Gen. Andrei Sukhovetsky, who leads Russia’s 7th Guards Mountain Air Assault Division; Maj. Gen. Vitaliy Gerasimova, who served as the chief of staff and first deputy commander of the Russian military’s 41st Combined Arms Army; and Maj. Gen. Oleg Mityaev, commander of the 150th motorized rifle division.
Russia’s Komsomolskaya Pravda reported Russian Maj. Gen Vladimir Frolov, the deputy commander of 8th Guards Combined Arms Army, was also killed.
Agence France-Presse reported the two other Russian generals killed are Lt. Gen Yakov Rezanstev, commander of Russia’s 49th Combined Arms Army and Gen Magomed Tushaev, a leader of Chechen Special Forces.
Russian Col. Andrei Zakharov was one of the other top Russian military leaders the Ukrainian side claimed it had killed in the ongoing fighting. Zakharov had once been personally honored by Russian President Vladimir Putin, at a ceremony at the Kremlin.
Ukrainian officials continue to report high losses from the Russian side and they provide updated assessments on a daily basis. As of Monday, the Ukrainian military estimated Russia’s military had lost about 20,600 troops so far in the invasion.
Russia has provided far more conservative and frequent casualty assessments. On March 25, the Russian military said around 1,351 of its troops had been killed, the BBC reported.