A Ukrainian intelligence agency says its army killed Major General Vitaly Gerasimov, a senior Russian official who received military decorations for his role in the 2014 takeover of Crimea from Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry’s General Intelligence Directorate said on social media on Monday that military forces killed Gerasimov while he was defending Kharkiv, a city in the northeast of the country. The announcement came the same day Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky publicly hailed his army’s resolve, saying demoralized Russian forces had severely underestimated his troops.
Besides Vitaly, “a number of senior Russian military officers were also killed and injured,” according to the leadership. The intelligence agency also said it had received reports that the Russian military had “significant” problems with communication and “evacuation of their broken units”.
If confirmed, Gerasimov would be the second Russian general killed by Ukrainian forces after Russian Major General Andrey Sukhovetskiy was killed in action last week.
Russian state newspaper Pravda also reported the death of Gerasimov. A Russian military spokesman told the newspaper that “the evacuation of units and units that suffered battle losses is delayed.”
Christo Grozev, executive director of investigative journalism firm Bellingcat, said in a tweet that she had confirmed Gerasimov’s death. In another tweet, Grozev said Ukrainian forces intercepted a phone call from a Russian officer who had called his superior to report Gerasimov’s death. The Russian officer said they lost all secure communications after their cryptophone system stopped working, according to Grozev.
“Russia, if you’re listening: suppress your army,” Grozev said in a tweet.
According to Ukraine’s military intelligence agency, Gerasimov was a Russian military commander, chief of staff and first deputy commander of the 41st Army of the Central Military District of Russia. He was also a veteran of the Second Chechen War, where Russian military forces subdued separatists in the northern Caucasus in the first decade of the 2000s.
Notably, Gerasimov received a medal “for the return of Crimea”, a reference to his role in Russia’s annexation of the Black Sea peninsula in 2014 as Ukraine was gripped by political upheaval. The annexation was widely condemned by Western powers.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on social media on Monday that it had halted several advances by Russian forces.
“In general, the moral and psychological state of the enemy is low,” the post read. “It is demoralized due to heavy losses in manpower and military equipment, in some areas it is deserting.”
Newsweek contacted the Pentagon for comment.