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In a brutal blow to President Vladimir Putin, one of Russia’s prominent paratrooper commanders, Vasily Popov, 38, has been killed while attempting to halt Ukraine’s counteroffensive, reports claim.
Popov, along with three other officers, is believed to have died in the recent wave of Russian casualties.
Ukrainian forces have been conducting effective and limited counterattacks in the vicinity of Kyiv to disrupt the Russian military’s plans to capture the city and alleviate some of the pressure on the capital.
These efforts have proven successful so far, making it increasingly unlikely that Russia will take control of the city.
Before his reported death, Popov had only recently taken charge of the elite 247th Airborne Assault Regiment, leading it for just a few weeks.
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While the precise circumstances surrounding his death have not been disclosed, it is suspected that he lost his life near the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia regional border, as suggested by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
This regiment had previously suffered substantial losses during the Ukrainian war, sparking controversy over the failure of Popov’s predecessor to repatriate the bodies of the fallen soldiers.
Another former commander of the regiment, Konstantin Zizevsky, met his end in the initial days of the conflict and was subsequently posthumously awarded the title of Hero of Russia.
The regiment, often referred to as the “suicide squad,” experienced significant casualties during Vladimir Putin’s ill-fated rapid invasion of Ukraine at the onset of the war.
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ISW highlighted Russia’s strategy of deploying elite troops for counterattacks in Ukraine may result in the decimation of Russian forces.
The news of Popov’s death has elicited emotional reactions from pro-war commentators.
Yegor Guzenko, author of Telegram network Z-channel Thirteenth, said: “The new commander of the 247th regiment died.
“He only recently took up his command.
“A good man, damn, really, damn, a hero, damn, just a hero.
“I have no other words, and I feel sorry for him. Three other men died with him, and I feel sorry for them.”
Russia has experienced a number of notable casualties in the ongoing bloody war.
In March 2022, Vitaly Gerasimov was assassinated, just days following the death of Major General Andrei Sukhovetsky, who was killed by a Ukrainian sniper during the battle for Hostomel Airfield, located around 30 miles from Kyiv.
Another loss in the same year was Major General Andrei Simonov, who was struck by a rocket strike targeting his troops during combat.
Popov’s death comes after Ukraine dealt another significant blow to Putin this week after attacking a Russian fleet with a 10-missile and unmanned boats strike.
Kyiv’s defense forces confirmed they carried out an overnight airstrike on Russian boats docked in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, damaging a landing ship and a submarine as well as a repair facility.
Russia claimed its troops intercepted seven of the ten missiles launched at the port but conceded in a Telegram post they had suffered damages in the attack.
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