War against Ukraine: paper generals and losses of Russia

Ten Russian generals are said to have fallen in the war against Ukraine. And even beyond that, the army apparently records significant losses. Is the Kremlin now planning a change of strategy?

The Russian army is said to have already lost ten of its top generals involved in the war of aggression against Ukraine. It would be half of all the one-star generals it has deployed to Ukraine since the start of the war, according to concordant media reports.

Contrary to the description of the Ukrainian army, German media reports that nine generals were killed. The reason for the different information could be that the name of the apparently deceased tenth commander is also unknown to international media.

Photo series with 69 images

These generals would have fallen:

  • Andrei Simonov, the commander-in-chief of the electronic warfare units, reportedly killed on April 30 near the town of Izyum in the northeastern region of Kharkiv.
  • Major General Vladimir Frolov, deputy commander of the 8th Army, was buried with military honors in St. Petersburg on April 16, according to Russian state media. It is unclear exactly how and when Frolov died.
  • Yakov Riazantsevcommander of the 49th Southern District Army, was reportedly killed in a March 25 shelling of Chernobaivka airport in the Kherson region, Ukrainian presidential aide Oleksiy Arestovych said.
  • The general Andrei Mordvichev was killed by the Ukrainian army on March 19 during fierce fighting between the cities of Mykolaiv and Kherson, according to the Ukrainian army general staff. Learn more here
  • Andrei Kolesnikov, commander of the Kantemirovskaya Armored Division, was reportedly killed by Ukrainian forces on March 11. “Russian invaders continue to lose their officers in the war against Ukraine,” he said in a tweet. It is not known exactly where he fell.
  • Oleg Mityaev, a major general and commander of the army’s 150th Motorized Rifle Division, reportedly fell in battle for the besieged city of Mariupol in early March. According to the media, his body was not found until a month later.
  • Major General Vitaly Gerasimov should dem According to Britain’s Guardian, he fell outside the eastern city of Kharkiv on March 7. Gerasimov took part in the Second Chechen War, the Russian military operation in Syria and the annexation of Crimea.
  • general Andrei Sukhovetsky was killed by Ukrainian snipers during a special operation near Kharkiv on March 3. The organization of officers of the Krasnodar region confirmed his death – so far the only one. The 47-year-old’s death is a real triumph for the Ukrainian military, as Sukhovetsky served as the commanding general of Russia’s 7th Airborne Division and deputy commander of the 41st Combined Arms Army during the 2014 invasion of Crimea.
  • Magomed Tusaev was reportedly killed in an airstrike northeast of Hostomel, the Daily Mail reported. The Chechen fighter was with his special unit of thousands of infantry and more than 56 tanks in the suburbs of kyiv. His death has yet to be independently confirmed.

Russian generals coordinate in Ukraine on the front line

Reports and images from Ukraine paint a picture of heavy Russian casualties, especially among generals. But why is this? “On the one hand, it’s because Ukraine is waging a very good electronic warfare,” Wolfgang Richter, a security policy expert at Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), told t-online. They could find out electronically where the sources of the radio conversations were coming from and then attack the corresponding command posts, where the generals were then located.

“Generals, on the other hand, are way ahead in battles,” says Richter — precisely because there are apparently leadership issues and generals are under pressure to succeed. Military expert Gustav Gressel sees another reason. An error in the training of Russian officers is becoming noticeable: officers only receive extensive tactical training from the rank of major and are used in the staff of battalions, he told t-online.

Many generals on paper

“Because the lower levels do not understand enough what is happening in the battle, things often go wrong, senior officers come to the front to sort things out and are eliminated by the Ukrainians,” says the expert, drawing a conclusion Sobering: The Russian military has the power on paper of many trained generals and officers – but their quality is not particularly high. There are probably far fewer officers with combat experience in Syria or the Donbass than Russia wanted to make known before the war.


Wolfgang Richter is a security policy researcher at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) of the German Institute for International and Security Policy. His research deals with, among other things, NATO-Russia relations and unresolved territorial disputes in Europe. He also studies the impact of new military technologies on strategy, the international law of war and the control of humanitarian arms.

The loss of generals in the war is unlikely to be felt in the long term, according to security expert Richter. “Many senior officers are trained to become generals later. So when generals fall, they follow,” Richter says. In addition, there are always chiefs of staff or deputies who can take over. The loss of generals should therefore not fundamentally affect the leadership ability. “In ongoing battles, however, there are temporary gaps in leadership. They can cause troops to be temporarily disoriented, especially since they are not trained to act independently even without orders,” explains the expert.

Expert: About a quarter of Russian troops need to be replaced

The situation is different with Russian casualties in general, says Richter: “They are indeed significant.” Russia attacked Ukraine with at least 180,000 troops – “and I’m only talking about ground forces here,” Richter admits. The Ukrainians would probably give too much with 21,000 Russian casualties, Western estimates would be around 10,000-15,000.

But even if we assume an average of 12,000, we must always add the wounded to the dead, specifies the expert. This is often triple the number. Only then do you come to the real losses that the Russian army must register. “And we have to assume that a fifth to a quarter of the troops that were deployed against Ukraine at the start of the war are out and need to be replaced with additional reserves.”

Expert: “It’s getting tight for Russian troops”

However, it is anything but easy: it will be difficult for Russia to replenish the troops now, according to Richter. Russia has about 360,000 ground forces. However, a large part of these armed forces is needed in the Far North, on the borders with the Baltic region, in Central Asia, in the Far East or in the Caucasus. “Russian ground forces are strategically overstretched, and it is no longer possible to gather as many reserves to use in Ukraine without taking dangerous risks elsewhere,” the expert explains. Russia is therefore dependent on rapid progress. This is currently being attempted in eastern and southern Ukraine.

“But after that it will be tight for the Russian troops,” Richter said. Because it will take months for the conscripts, last called up in April, to be ready for deployment. And even then, conscripts should not be deployed overseas. “However, this basic rule is no longer respected everywhere by Russian leaders,” the expert said.

“Airstrikes on Ukraine could increase”

The fact that things are getting more complicated for Russia can also be seen by the fact that Syrian fighters are already recruited or Chechen fighters are deployed. However, these troops are not sufficiently trained and equipped to engage in tactical combined arms combat, but instead serve to control the rear or fight subversively.

So, will Russia change its strategy? “It is possible that air attacks against Ukraine will increase,” Richter said. Because regardless of the weakened ground troops, Russia is clearly superior to Ukraine in the air force. It is all the more surprising that Russia has not yet succeeded in securing air supremacy over Ukraine. Ukrainian air defenses are still functioning. Russia will therefore continue its airstrikes with ranged weapons, missiles and cruise missiles, trying to avoid dropping bombs directly on targets.

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