Russian media are beginning to acknowledge the scale of the casualties in Ukraine, while Putin begins looking for scapegoats for the failure of his “special military operation.”
While exact casualty figures for Vladimir Putin’s “military special operation” in Ukraine are still hard to come by, Russian media have begun reporting deaths among the invading forces.
Russian news site Chita reported this week that crack sniper Sergei Tsarkov was killed in action and posthumously awarded the Order of Courage.
A comrade of Tsarkov is quoted as saying: “Sergey Igorevich Tsarkov served in a rifle company of snipers.
“He was the best sniper in the brigade. Everyone respected him greatly, he was a professional, enjoyed authority. Nobody could believe that this could happen to him.”
Tsarkov was reportedly one of the Russian Army’s deadliest snipers and regularly won the Sniper Frontier competition at the International Army Games tournament – a test of military skills for Russian forces and fighters from allied countries such as Vietnam, Bangladesh and Venezuela.
Tsarkov was born in 1983 in Borzya, a city in south-eastern Russia with around 30,000 inhabitants. His funeral took place on April 10th.
Ukraine claims that Russia has lost more than 28,300 troops since the invasion began 12 weeks ago, although independent estimates put the figure at close to half. Around 11,000 Ukrainians are said to have lost their lives in the same period.
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A blame game has erupted in the Kremlin, with a number of high-ranking commanders being punished for the failure of the invasion.
According to a statement from the Defense Ministry, Lieutenant General Serhiy Kisel, who commanded the elite 1st Guards Tank Army, was suspended after his regiment failed to capture Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.
Vice Admiral Igor Osipov, who commanded Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, is also “likely” suspended, a ministry spokesman said.
The Defense Ministry said: “In recent weeks Russia has fired senior commanders believed to have performed poorly in the initial stages of its invasion of Ukraine. A culture of cover-up and scapegoating is likely rife in the Russian military and security system.”