Vladimir Putin’s war effort has been left in ruins after his top commander – Valeriy Gerasimov – was reportedly wounded and forced to flee the country after a Ukrainian ambush attack. The devastating attack is a huge blow to the Kremlin after President Putin had personally sent General Gerasimov to rescue the stalled war ahead of the May 9 Victory Day parade. General Gerasimov, who is the chief of staff of the Russian army, had been sent to the region to take personal control of the all-out assault on the Donbas region.
Russia has shifted its focus from taking Kyiv to seizing territory in eastern Ukraine following a series of retreats.
Footage of the ambush near the city of Izium was later released by the Ukrainian military and shared widely online.
The video of the strikes shows a series of coordinated explosions, before smoke billows into the air.
The attack, in the key battleground region of Kharkiv, is understood to have targeted a senior Russian military planning command post.
The blasts left a “large number of causalities among senior Russian officers” according to a Ukrainian political advisor.
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It also killed dozens of elite Russian reinforcements sent to bolster the eastern advance to seize the Donbas region.
Russia’s military leaders had been pouring troops and equipment into the east of Ukraine in an attempt to force a victory.
Following the attack, it was reported by former minister of Ukrainian Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov that General Gerasimov had suffered a minor shrapnel wound to his right shin without breaking a bone.
It is thought that the injury forced the top commander to be evacuated from the frontlines and back to Russia where he landed in Belgorod.
Earlier today a Russian military site in Belgorod was hit in a suspected Ukrainian strike.
Mr Kovalenko added: “At the moment of the #Ukraine attack more than 40 high-ranked Russian military officers gathered in the HQs in #Izium.
“Reportedly, up to 20 of them are confirmed killed incl. Gen. Andrey Simonov, a commander of electronic warfare forces of the West district.”
General Simonov is Russia’s ninth general to have been killed since the start of the invasion.
This comes as a UK intelligence briefing revealed that Russia “has been forced to merge and deploy some of its forces in Ukraine because of failed advances in the country”.
It added that this “has been blamed on tactical shortcomings and inconsistent air support”.