A Russian army commander has been killed by a group of demoralised soldiers fed up with the scale of losses during the invasion of Ukraine, Western officials have said.
The commander of the 37th rifle brigade, named by officials as Colonel Medvechek, is understood to have been run over by one of his own soldiers who had grown frustrated by his unit’s heavy losses.
Russia is believed to be sending top leaders to the frontlines in a bid to bolster low morale among troops.
A Western official said: “We believe he was killed by his own troops deliberately.
“Indeed, we believe he was run over by his own troops. And I believe he was the commander of the 37th Motor Rifle Brigade.”
They added he was killed as a “consequence of the scale of losses that had been taken by his brigade.
Read more: Russia ‘losing more ground’ as Ukrainians ‘reclaim towns and positions near Kyiv’
“And that just gives an insight into some of the morale challenges that Russian forces are having.”
The commander has been named on social media as Colonel Yuri Medvedev, though Western officials have now identified him as Colonel Medvechek.
On 11 March, the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov posted a video on Telegram purportedly showing a still alive Colonel Medvedev being carried on a stretcher having suffered serious injuries.
Euan MacDonald, a British journalist for the New Voice of Ukraine, identified the individuals as the same person. It is not clear how the Russian commander died in the two weeks since the video was posted and today’s claims by intelligence officials.
There have now been at least seven Russian army leaders killed as Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has “largely stalled on all fronts.”
The MoD said this morning that Russia is losing ground, allowing Ukrainian forces to reclaim certain key towns and positions just 20 miles from Kyiv.
Ukrainian authorities have claimed between 10-15,000 Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine – which if true would be the highest toll since the Second World War.
While the number has not been independently verified, a Nato source put the numbers of Russian soldiers killed at between 7,000 and 15,000
Watch: Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko attacks Putin: ‘He’s sick, he’s an unhealthy man’
An anonymous officer from Nato said on Wednesday that battlefield casualties suffered by Russia are thought to total between 30,000 and 40,000 since Putin launched his invasion on 24 February.
British military intelligence said on Thursday that “Russian forces have almost certainly suffered thousands of casualties during their invasion of Ukraine.”
In an effort to bolster their troops, Russia is likely looking at bringing reservists and conscription, further intelligence has suggested.
The Russian President is said to be frustrated at the lack of progress, which has seen his troops fail to seize any major cities despite the heavy bombardment of them.
Russian state journalists were told the invasion of Ukraine would be over in two weeks, a whistleblower has claimed.
Speaking anonymously to ITV News, a journalist for the Russia 1 television channel said they were initially told the war would be over by 8 March, then they would be able to go back to their “normal work”.
But a week after that date passed, Russian security chiefs admitted that the conflict was not going “as fast as we would like”.
The journalist’s comments come as Russian efforts to take Ukraine continue to stall, a month after the invasion. (Getty)
Read more: UK armed forces unable to ‘stand up to enemy’ in event of another world war
The journalist’s comments come as Russian efforts to take Ukraine continue to stall, a month after the invasion.
On Friday, a Ministry of Defence (MoD) intelligence update said Ukrainian forces were reclaiming key towns and positions up to 21 miles (35km) east of Kyiv as Russian forces lose ground.
Speaking to ITV News, the Russia 1 journalist said: “We expected the war to go on for one week.
“Our manager told us it would be over by 8 March and then we could return to our normal work on musical and dance programmes.”