May 23, 2022

Russian forces suffer loss of yet another high-ranking officer in Ukraine

In yet another substantial blow to the Russian military amid its ongoing conflict with Ukraine, Col. Alexander Bespalov has been killed, as the Washington Examiner reports, with his death marking the ninth high-ranking member of President Vladimir Putin’s fighting forces to meet such a fate since their invasion began.

According to a Twitter post from Visegrad 24, at the time of his death, Bespalov served as the commander of the 59th Guards Tank Regiment, which is affiliated with the 144th Guards Motorized Rifle Division.

The Examiner further noted that no fewer than seven Russian generals had lost their lives in Ukraine at the hands of snipers, in close combat engagements, or in bombings.

Estimates provided by the Ukrainian military suggest that upwards of 18,000 soldiers on the Russian side have died since late February, with hundreds of aircraft, tanks, and helicopters also having been destroyed.

While Russia’s self-reported tallies of losses have tended to come in substantially lower than Western estimates, Dmitry Peskov of the Kremlin recently conceded that the country had indeed experienced “significant” losses in the campaign to date.

News of Bespalov’s death comes amid reports that Putin has turned to Gen. Aleksander Dvornikov to lead a repositioning of Russian troops in the eastern part of Ukraine, a move the White House recently described as the aggressor country “revising its war aims.”

Biden administration national security adviser Jake Sullivan explained recently that “[w]hen Russia started this war, its initial aims were to seize the capital of Kyiv, replace the Zelensky government and take control of much if not all of Ukraine. Russia believed that it could accomplish these objectives swiftly and efficiently.”

However, as Sullivan noted, after encountering a surprising degree of resistance, “[a]ll indications are that Russia will seek to surround and overwhelm Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine. We anticipate that Russian commanders are now executing the redeployment from northern Ukraine to the region around the Donbas.”

The conflict in Ukraine thus far has been characterized by starling unpredictability, and when asked last week about the likely duration of the war, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley opined that it could continue for years into the future, in an undoubtedly terrifying prospect for the Ukrainian people who have already suffered so very much.

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