Russia Loses Another Top General

They have lost at least seven.

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Via the BBC: Russian general Yakov Rezantsev killed in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s defence ministry says another Russian general, Lt Gen Yakov Rezantsev, was killed in a strike near the southern city of Kherson. 

Rezantsev was the commander of Russia’s 49th combined army.

A western official said he was the seventh general to die in Ukraine, and the second lieutenant general – the highest rank officer reportedly killed.

The piece has a list of the seven.

I would point to this piece from Foreign Policy from a few days ago: ‘Winging It’: Russia Is Getting Its Generals Killed on the Front Lines.

The tally of Russian generals killed in the nearly monthlong conflict—most of them one- and two-star commanders, including at least one lieutenant general—is likely the highest death rate among general officers in the Russian military since World War II.

At the time that was published (6 days ago), the tally was five generals. This is a stunning situation and underscores the massive miscalculation that Russia made with this invasion.

One European diplomat familiar with Western intelligence assessments told Foreign Policy on Monday that at least five Russian generals had been killed, owing mostly to failures in electronic communications equipment that left them vulnerable to targeted strikes and to their efforts to get a large force of nearly 200,000 troops—many of them young conscripts—to follow orders by leading from the front.

“They’re struggling on the front line to get their orders through,” said the European diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss recent battlefield intelligence. “They’re having to go to the front line to make things happen, which is putting them at much greater risk than you would normally see.”

The issue is not just one of ground forces:

While the war has featured almost no ship-to-ship combat, high-ranking naval officers appear to be getting killed in greater numbers. Over the weekend, a deputy Russian Black Sea Fleet commander, Andrey Paliy—who was set to be promoted to a one-star admiral rank—was shot dead by Ukrainian forces outside the besieged city of Mariupol.

Of note:

Earlier on Monday, the pro-Kremlin tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda reported that 9,861 Russian soldiers had been killed in Ukraine in nearly a month of combat, with 16,153 injured, a possible leak or hack of official Russian Defense Ministry statistics. The paragraph reporting this was later purged from the story. Officially, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that 498 Russian troops had been killed in Ukraine as of March 2, less than a week into the war.

The piece notes that the US government has not confirmed these deaths and the Russians have only admitted to one.

For comparison:

Just one U.S. general has been killed in a war zone since the Vietnam War: Army Maj. Gen. Harold Greene, who was killed in an insider attack when an Afghan soldier opened fire on a visiting delegation at a U.S. base in 2014. Another, Lt. Gen. Timothy Maude, was killed at the Pentagon during 9/11 when a hijacked airliner crashed into the building. 

The whole FP piece is worth a read.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. CSK says:

    And let’s not forget the colonel whose troops mutinied and ran him over with a tank after losing 50% of their fighting force.

  2. DK says:

    @CSK: Sorry to that man.

  3. Michael Cain says:

    Out of idle curiosity, how many generals does the Russian Army have? Is this on a par with a bank announcing that seven vice presidents have left? Because large bank corporations tend to have hundreds of vice presidents. Or are we talking numbers where no replacements will be named until the State Duma confirms them?

  4. a country lawyer says:

    Two of the seven generals reported killed were Lieut. Generals (3-Star). a Lieut. General traditionally commands a corps and sometimes an army. Since a corps is two to three divisions, loss of a corps or army commander is extraordinarily damaging, since five major generals have already been lost.
    I believe the last American general to lose his life in combat was Lt. Gen Simon Boliver Buckner at Okinawa

  5. James Joyner says:

    @a country lawyer: No, there have been quite a few since then. Indeed, BG Claudius Miller Easley was killed by a Japanese sniper the very next day. MG Harold Greene, murdered by an Afghan in 2014, was the most recent.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    General and Flag Officers Killed in War

    Brigadier General Edward Burke Burdett (U.S. Air Force)
    Commanding General, 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, Korat Royal Thai Air Base. MIA November 18, 1967 when shot down while flying a F-105D on a strike mission over Phuc Yen Airfield, North Vietnam. Later declared a prisoner of war, he died in captivity on November 18, 1967.

    Major General Robert Franklin Worley (U.S. Air Force)
    Vice Commander, Seventh Air Force, Pacific Air Forces. Killed July 23, 1968, when the RF-4C he was piloting was hit by ground fire and crashed approximately 65 miles northwest of Da Nang Air Base.

    Major General Keith Lincoln Ware (U.S. Army)
    Commanding General, 1st Infantry Division. Killed September 13, 1968 over Loc Ninh near the Cambodian border, when his helicopter was shot down by heavy anti-aircraft fire. Awarded Medal of Honor in 1944.

    Brigadier General Charles Jack Girard (U.S. Army)
    Commanding General, Capital Military Assistance Command, Saigon, Vietnam. Died January 17, 1970 of illness or disease.

    Brigadier General William Ross Bond (U.S. Army)
    Commanding General, 199th Light Infantry Brigade. Killed in Action April 1, 1970 by small arms fire along the southeastern edge of war zone D, about 70 miles northeast of Saigon.

    Brigadier General Carroll Edward Adams, Jr. (U.S. Army)
    Commander, 13th Engineer Bde. Killed on May 12, 1970 when his helicopter was shot down in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

    Major General John Albert B. Dillard, Jr. (U.S. Army)
    Chief of Army Engineers in Vietnam. Killed May 12, 1970 when his helicopter was shot down in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

    Brigadier General Richard J. Tallman (U.S. Army)
    Deputy Commanding General, 3rd Regional Assistance Cmd, MACV. Mortally Wounded on July 9, 1972 at An Loc when his helicopter was struck by enemy artillery fire.

    It’s been said that the avg life span of a 2nd Lieutenant in Vietnam was 2 weeks (or something like that, I’ve heard several versions). Seems Nam wasn’t too kind to Generals either.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: No edit function, meant to add that there were several more who died in accidental deaths too.

  8. DK says:

    @Michael Cain:

    Out of idle curiosity, how many generals does the Russian Army have?

    Maybe an infinite amount, a la “al-Qaeda #2.”

  9. JohnSF says:

    I could be wrong, but I suspect that at least in part this is another aspect of Ukrainian success in the “electronic warfare” side of the campaign.
    That due to shared legacies of late-Soviet equipment, and combat zone experience in Donbas since 2014, and perhaps co-operation with Western partners, the Ukrainians are on the inside of the Russian communications systems.

    May also be a part in the Ukrainian effectiveness in ambush operations, and in quite precise targeting of Russian by Ukrainian artillery and missiles.
    And the failures of Russia to eliminate Ukrainian air defense systems and communication nets, and apparent lack of success in hitting Ukrainian supply depots and movements.

    Ukrainian military planning for this war has been very competent indeed.

  10. a country lawyer says:

    @James Joyner: You’re correct I meant to say Lt. Gen., not just general.
    I was flying nearby in 1967 when MG Bruno Hochmuth, CG of the 3rd MarDiv was killed in his Huey.

  11. Michael Reynolds says:

    Any idea how much of a role western intelligence agencies have had in helping to target Russian generals?

  12. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Not a scooby, I’m afraid.
    Very far from moving in such circles; even the few military folks I know these days are mostly medical and transport types.

    Just speculation on my part; but I’ll wager a fair pot the electronic warfare guys have been falling over themselves to liaise with Kyiv due to Ukrainian experience of eight years of fighting Russian special forces in Donbas.

    Even if not via NATO formally, I expect the Poles, if no one else, have been sharing real-time with Kyiv.
    Adjoining NATO airspace has been jammed full of intelligence collection planes since before the invasion began.

    Oh, one amusing bit of intelligence news:

    Bellingcat investigator Hristo Grozev said that #Russia has spent billions of dollars since 2014 on a pro-Russian politicians and propagandists in #Ukraine. However, all this money was simply stolen…

    Appears either the FSB pocketed it, or the “agents” just took the money and scarpered, or reported it to the Ukrainian authorities, and “doubled”.
    They few who did play were apparently ID’d by Ukrainian counter-espionage, and “dealt with” after the invasion began.

    Speculation elsewhere that the “doubles” led the Wagner mercs who were tasked with killing Zelensky and “decapitating” Kyiv into traps.
    Shame, eh?

  13. Michael Reynolds says:

    When bad things happen to bad people.