The short statement issued on Monday did not provide any evidence of the death of Major General Vitaly Gerasimov, nor did it give details of when he was killed.
Russian state media said nothing on Tuesday about Gerasimov, although it did mention other Russians killed in Ukraine.
Ukraine identified Gerasimov as a “Russian military commander, major general, chief of staff and first deputy commander of the 41st Army of the Central Military District of Russia” and said he was a veteran of the Russian campaigns in Chechnya and Syria.
A statement from the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said that “a number of senior officers of the Russian army were killed and wounded.”
The Ukrainian ministry also alluded in its statement to the communication problems it says the Russian military is facing. Christo Grosev, executive director of open source investigative outlet Bellingcat, stated in a Twitter thread that information about the general’s death may have been obtained from the interception of a phone call on an unsecured network.
CNN was unable to confirm these details.
Franz Stefan Gade, a research fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), told CNN that the general’s death is “a testament to the ferocity of the fighting near Kharkiv,” though he added that Ukrainian reports of the killing of a senior Russian official. The officers remained ambiguous.
Gade also said it was an indication that Russia’s top brass “need to lead from the front to regroup and reinforce their forces” and “push their soldiers forward to attack” amid low troop morale.
He noted that such an approach could lead to further reports of high-ranking military personnel being killed.
Russian forces have launched continuous strikes on Kharkiv in recent days. Heavy artillery shelling, air raids and fire on residential neighborhoods destroyed the main northeastern city, but it has not yet fallen into the hands of the Russians.
“Kharkiv currently has water supply and heating for all buildings still standing except for those that have been destroyed,” city mayor Igor Terekhov told CNN Today on Tuesday.
Terekhov described the attacks as “genocide” and asked: “What could it be otherwise? There are no military infrastructure, no military facilities in these areas. The strikes happen in kindergartens, schools, maternity hospitals and clinics.”
“This is not an accident. I can understand when there is an accidental attack. But when you hit hundreds of civilian buildings, it is no accident. This is a targeted attack,” he claimed.
The Kharkiv regional administration said in a Facebook post on Sunday that the “repeated shelling” of the city’s television tower had brought television and radio broadcasts to a halt.
The Kremlin has denied targeting Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, despite multiple documented losses.
CNN’s Amy Cassidy, Michael Conti and Barbara Starr contributed reporting.
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