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Russian Black Sea Fleet Commander Killed By Ukrainians In Battle For Mariupol

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A Black Sea Fleet commander has been shot dead by Ukrainian forces, becoming the first Russian naval chief to be killed during the invasion.

Andrey Paliy, the deputy commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, is the sixth top military figure to die during the invasion of Ukraine, after he was killed in battle around Mariupol.

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His death was confirmed in a post on the social media site VKontakte by Konstantin Tsarenko, a former colleague at the Naval School in Sevastopol.

Mr Tsarenko’s post was later deleted. But a former naval officer, Igor Savostin, posted on the same site that Paliy died “like a true commissar by leading the marines into battle”.

Paliy is believed to have been killed in fighting around the besieged city of Mariupol. The Russian defence ministry has not confirmed his death.

The 51-year-old was born in Kyiv but reportedly refused to swear allegiance to the new Ukrainian state after the break-up of the Soviet Union, instead moving to Russia and joining the navy.

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He appears to have been actively involved in the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and was stationed at the Black Sea harbour of Sevastopol in Crimea.

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Last year, the city’s military museum wrote a tribute to him to mark his 50th birthday. The tribute praised Paliy for his daring, recalling an occasion on which he had parachuted into the freezing waters of the Black Sea in January.

One message hailed Paliy as a man “who is utterly alien to office work despite his senior rank. He is a true officer in the best sense of the word who received medals for combat”.

The message said Paliy was known for “high professional competence and other outstanding qualities such as his humanity, decency, honesty and a keen sense of humour”.

Ukrainian forces claim to have picked off a string of senior Russian generals, losses that have cemented the impression that Vladmir Putin’s invasion is increasingly mired in setbacks.

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Among those reported to have been killed are Major General Vitaly Gerasimov, who fought in Syria and Chechnya, as well as in Crimea in 2014, and Major General Oleg Mityaev, who had also fought in Syria.

While Kyiv has claimed the generals’ deaths, none has been officially confirmed by Russia nor have they been corroborated by western governments.

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Military experts say the high casualty rate among Russian generals is partly because senior commanders take a more active role in battle than is normal in western armies.

Pressure from Moscow to break the resilient Ukrainian resistance could also be pushing commanders to take more risks than usual.

According to a report in the New York Times last week, US intelligence believes 7,000 Russian soldiers have already died during the invasion, a number that roughly equated to total US losses during two decades in Afghanistan and Iraq. Thousands of Ukrainian soldiers are also believed to have been killed in the 25-day war.

Photo Credit: Getty

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