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Russia confirms death of seventh major general since invasion of Ukraine

Commander of Russia’s Kantemirovskaya Tank Division Vladimir Zavadsky delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the anniversary of the unit’s foundation in Naro-Fominsk in the Moscow region (Reuters)
Commander of Russia’s Kantemirovskaya Tank Division Vladimir Zavadsky delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the anniversary of the unit’s foundation in Naro-Fominsk in the Moscow region (Reuters)

Russia has confirmed the death of a seventh major general since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, a week after local reports said he was killed by a landmine placed by his own side.

Major general Vladimir Zavadsky, deputy commander of Russia’s 14th Army Corps, died “at a combat post in the special operation zone”, said Alexander Gusev, governor of Russia’s Voronezh region. Russia uses the term “special military operation” to describe its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian official called Zavadsky a “much-decorated officer” and a former tank commander, adding that his death was a heavy loss that caused “transfixing pain”. He did not give any further details of how the death occurred.

While Zavadsky’s death is the seventh of a major general confirmed by Russia’s defence ministry, Ukrainian officials and media outlets put the true toll at at least 12.

Russia’s defence ministry does not routinely comment on the country’s war losses, and has still issued no statement on Zavadsky’s death even after Mr Gusev’s tribute.

Zavadsky’s death first came to light last week after the pro-Kremlin newspaper Lenta said he had died in occupied Ukraine. The elite military academy where he studied, the Moscow Higher Combined Arms Command School, also announced his death in a social media post that was later deleted.

Unconfirmed reports said that the general was killed by a landmine placed by Mr Putin’s own forces, intended to target Ukrainian reconnaissance groups, according to the Telegram channel VChK-OGPU, which claims to have ties to Russian security services.

“The investigation is considering the possibility of an explosion of a mine that was previously installed by a neighbouring unit in order to combat the enemy’s [sabotage and reconnaissance unit],” it said.

The Telegram channel claimed that the incident happened during a “senseless” redeployment of Zavadsky’s forces away from the frontline, though there were conflicting reports about exactly where the landmine blast took place.

The Lenta report said Zavadsky was killed near Izium, in Kharkiv oblast, despite the fact the town was taken back by Ukraine in September 2022 and now lies some dozens of kilometres from the frontline inside Ukrainian-held territory.

Russia and Ukraine have treated their military losses in the continuing war as state secrets, and reports vary on the death toll of high-ranking Russian military officers. Most outlets put the figure as at least 12, while Ukrainian officials claim as many as 16 of Putin’s generals have died in the conflict so far.