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A 15th Russian military commander has been claimed killed in action in Ukraine, in what appears to have become the deadliest war for the country's top generals since World War Two.
The Ukrainian army has said that Colonel Alexei Sharov, who led the 810th Guards Naval Infantry Brigade, was killed in fighting in the city of Mariupol earlier this week.
His death has not been confirmed by the Russian army, but would mark the fifth colonel killed and the 15th fatality among the country's high-ranking military officials since the war in Ukraine began almost one month ago.
Tallies by western officials of Russian generals killed in Ukraine suggest that Russia is taking its heaviest losses among general officers since World War Two, with at least five major generals among the casualties.
Among those to have died are Major General Vitaly Gerasimov - a one-star general who had won medals for his involvement in Russian military campaigns in Syria, Chechnya and Crimea and was killed on the outskirts of Kharkiv on 8 March - and Major General Andrey Sukhovetsky, a special forces commander who became the first Russian general to die in Ukraine since 1944.
Military experts have said that the rate of losses of top officials in action indicates that high-ranking officers have been forced to move to the front lines as a result of communication failures and a lack of discipline among their troops.
According to Bellingcat, technical issues have left military officials reliant on communicating through unencrypted channels, which can be intercepted by Ukrainian forces and used to carry out targeted strikes on command posts.
In a tweet on Sunday, 20 March, Mykhailo Podolyka, an leading advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, claimed that as many as six Russian generals had been killed, and said that the scale of the losses showed that Russia's army was 'fully unprepared' and reliant on 'numbers & cruise missiles'.
News of Sharov's death came on the same day that pro-Kremlin tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda published Russian ministry of defense numbers that stated 9,861 Russian soldiers had been killed and a further 16,153 injured in battle. The article was quickly deleted, with the newspaper issuing a statement claiming that it had been hacked.
Russia has not updated its casualty figures since it confirmed almost 500 soldiers had been killed in the first two weeks following its invasion of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian military claims more than 15,000 Russian soldiers have died - around the same number that were killed during the entirety of the Soviet Union's decade-long war in Afghanistan.
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