Vladimir Putin has been dealt a fresh blow after two Russian paratrooper colonels reportedly died within days of one another in Ukraine.
Colonel Andrei Kondrashkin, 44, was commander of the 31st Separate Guards Airborne Assault Brigade, an airborne infantry formation.
Kondrashkin died during battles against advancing Ukrainian forces by Andriivka, a war-gutted village south of Bakhmut reclaimed by Kyiv last week.
His death was first reported yesterday by Alexander Khodakovsky, deputy head of Rosgvardiya, Russia’s national guard, in annexed Donetsk.
‘Today we were deeply hurt by the news of his death. We offer our condolences to his family, friends and comrades,’ Khodakovsky wrote on Telegram.
Russia’s recent losses on the frontline in Ukraine have left the minister put in charge of Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion stumped. Defense minister Sergei Shoigu looked less than confident about the outcome of the war as Ukrainian troops regained further territory on the eastern and southern fronts in the past week of their counteroffensive
Khodakovsky said he and the colonel ‘became friends’ as they fought ‘hand in hand’ during the months-long siege of Mariupol last year.
‘I am sure that the wings of his airborne soul will quickly take him to the Throne of God,’ Khodakovsky added, ‘where he will sit and wait for us.’
Ukrainian journalist Yuriy Butusov added on Telegram that Kondrashkin’s unit, which took part in ‘all the major battles of the war’, had been tasked with preventing a Russian rifle brigade from being captured by Ukrainian soldiers.
‘However, Kondrashkin was unable to complete the task; a number of strong points of the 31st Airborne Assault Brigade were completely destroyed, and Ukrainian attack aircraft broke into the village through Kondrashkin’s defence sector,’ Butusov said.
‘The circumstances of how exactly Kondrashkin was destroyed during these battles are not yet known.
‘But the liquidation of the commander of one of the Russian strike formations is a serious achievement.’
Kondrashkin’s name is the latest on a growing list of Russia’s top military brass who have been fired, died or who have disappeared altogether since the war.
The list of deaths includes more than 450 majors, nearly 250 lieutenant colonels and about 100 colonels, according to Top Cargo 200, which tracks the killings of Russian senior military officers.
On September 14, the US-based think-tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said a senior Russian airborne commander had died.
Citing pro-Russian military Telegram channels and the Russian independent outlet Mediazona, the ISW said Colonel Vasily Popov, 38, was killed fighting in an unspecified part of Ukraine.
Mediazona said it confirmed Popov’s death through military records, which said he was 38 at the time of his passing.
Popov was made the commander of the 247th Guards Air Assault Regiment in either August or September, according to the ISW.
One of the regiment’s previous commanders, Colonel Konstantin Zizevsky, was killed in the spring of 2022.
Blogger Egor Guzenko, of the pro-war Telegram channel Thirteenth, said in a September 10 voice note that Popov was a ‘good man, damn, really, damn, a hero, damn, just a hero’.
‘I have no other words, and I feel sorry for him,’ he added. ‘Three other men died with him, and I feel sorry for them.’
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