Russian commander ‘dies after being run over by his own troops’

Colonel Medvechek, commanding the Russian 37th Motor Rifle Brigade, is believed to have been deliberately mown down (Pictures: Supplied)

A Russian brigade commander in Ukraine has been killed by his own mutinous troops amid anger at the scale of the casualties they are taking, Western officials have said.

Colonel Medvechek, commanding the Russian 37th Motor Rifle Brigade, is believed to have been deliberately mown down.

One official said: ‘The brigade commander was killed by his own troops, we believe, as a consequence of the scale of losses that have been taken by his brigade.

‘We believe that he was killed by his own troops deliberately. We believe that he was run over by his own troops.’

The same official said the lieutenant general commanding the Russian 49th Combined Arms Army has also died in the fighting.

He is the seventh Russian general officer to be killed in combat since the invasion began a month ago – more than a third of those deployed at the start of the operation.

Russia-Ukraine war: Everything you need to know

The latest losses underline the heavy casualties suffered by the Russians after encountering far stiffer resistance than they expected from Ukrainian forces.

Nato has estimated that in four weeks of fighting between 7,000 and 15,000 Russia troops have been killed in combat – compared with the 15,000 they lost in 10 years in Afghanistan.

One Western official said that of the 115 to 120 battalion tactical groups the Russians had at the start of the operation, 20 were no longer ‘combat effective’.

‘We have seen really high losses in some motor rifle regiments, but particularly in the airborne forces,’ the official said.

‘We have seen some of those units being pulled back into Russia to get some maintenance and care of their vehicles.

‘Some of those units have just lost enormous numbers of people, so what we have seen is the cannibalising of battalion tactical groups, joining three together to create one, or to have battalion tactical groups withdrwan from the fight.

‘After a month of operations to have somewhere in the region of a sixth, maybe even a fifth, of the forces being no longer effective, that is a pretty remarkable set of statistics.’

In a further sign that Vladimir Putin is having to rethink his objectives, the Russian defence ministry said that having completed the ‘first phase’ of the ‘special military operation’ they would now focus on the Donbas region, part-held by Russian-backed separatist rebels.

Western officials said it could mean a ‘pause’ in operations around Kyiv and elsewhere as the Russians move resources into the east of the county.

One official added scathingly: ‘As the first phase of the operation included taking Kyiv within four days I would probably contest the idea that they have achieved the first phase of the operation.’

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