A Russian colonel was blown up by an artillery blast in southern Ukraine, making him the 49th fighter at that rank to be killed in action since the start of the invasion, a report said Wednesday.
Lt. Colonel Zaur Dimaev, deputy commander of the 4th battalion of the Akhmat Kadyrov special forces regiment, was riding in a military SUV near the Komyshuvakha settlement in Zaporizhzhia Oblast when Ukrainian forces opened fire on the vehicle Tuesday, according to the Russian-language “Baza” Telegram channel.
Dimaev and the driver of the SUV were pronounced dead at the scene. Four other Russian servicemen were wounded.
Dimaev, who is the staunch ally of Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov. is the latest high-ranking Russian commander to perish in the war, now in its fourth month.
Although Russia has largely kept mum about its casualties, by some estimates it has lost at least 49 colonels since Feb. 24.
The full scope of Russian troops’ death toll is the subject of much debate, with Western analysts putting the number of fatalities at 15,000, and Ukrainians claiming that more than 30,000 have been killed.
Last week, Moscow confirmed that Lt. Colonel Alexander Dosyagaev, 34, one of its most decorated paratroopers, was killed in the city of Bucha near Kyiv earlier in the war.
The latest casualty among its top brass comes as the Kremlin is stepping up its effort efforts to overrun the hotly contested Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, where Russian forces have been making incremental gains in recent days.
President Vladimir Putin’s immediate goal appears to be to capture the strategically important city of Severodonetsk — 70% of which is already said to be under Russian control — before the Ukrainian army receives shipments of new high-precision missiles from the US as part of a $700 million military aid package that was announced by President Biden Tuesday.