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Two Russian commanders killed in eastern Ukraine

By Sarah May on
 May 16, 2023

As conflict continues to surround the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, the Russian Defense Ministry reported on Sunday that two of Moscow's top military commanders had been killed in the fighting, as Reuters reports.

The deaths occurred amid attempts by the Ukrainian military to weaken Russian resolve in the embattled eastern region of Donetsk.

Russian Commanders Killed

According to Russian officials, those killed were Commander Vyacheslav Makarov and Deputy Commander Yevgeny Brovko, men who were part of separate units, but who were both engaged in efforts to resist Ukrainian attacks.

Makarov hailed from the 4th Motorized Rifle Brigade and was, according to Ministry Spokesman Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov, severely wounded in battle and ultimately succumbed to his injuries while being evacuated, as The Hill noted.

Brovko was said by Konashenkov to have “died heroically, and his demise was reportedly the result of “multiple shrapnel wounds.”

According to Konashenkov, the men died during fighting in which Russian forces “destroyed three tanks, four infantry fighting vehicles, and two armored vehicles of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”

Intractable Conflict Continues

In addition to announcing the commanders' deaths, the ministry claimed that while Ukrainian troops continued to attack in the areas to both the north and south of Bakhmut, they had failed to break Russia's defensive positions.

“All attacks by units of Ukraine's armed forces have been repelled,” the ministry declared.

Speaking in further support of that contention was Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner Group mercenaries responsible for the lion's share of Russia's initiatives in Bakhmut indicated that his troops had made advances of roughly 400 feet in the prior 24 hours, as Reuters noted.

Ukraine, for its part, said through Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar that its forces are continuing a forward push in the north and south of Bakhmut, having captured at least ten enemy positions as well as soldiers from multiple troop units, but even so, neither side has been able to secure complete control of the city after months of costly combat.

Zelenskyy's Pledge

In other developments over the weekend, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded to recent reports suggesting that his country might attempt to capture undisputed Russian territory to gain bargaining leverage in peace talks, as the Associated Press explains.

During a news conference held alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin on Sunday, Zelenskyy said that while his military is planning a counteroffensive meant to liberate occupied areas, that does not mean that attacks on Russian territory are on the table.

“We don't attack Russian territory, we liberate our own legitimate territory,” Zelenskyy maintained. “We have neither the time nor the strength [to attack Russia]. And we also don't have weapons to spare, with which we could do this.”

Zelenskyy added, “We are preparing a counterattack for the illegally occupied areas based on our constitutionally defined legitimate borders, which are recognized internationally,” a seemingly direct response to a Washington Post report citing intelligence leaks suggesting that the opposite was true, a scenario which would put the Ukraine president in conflict with conditions Western nations have put on the use of weaponry they have provided throughout the course of the war.

Fighting in Bakhmut Claims U.S. Citizen

In addition to the Russian commanders who perished amid the fighting in Bakhmut in recent days, the aforementioned Wagner Group now claims that its forces killed an American citizen and former Green Beret in the continued hostilities, as The Hill reported separately.

Prigozhin himself appeared in a video claiming to show the American's dead body, and he also presented documents intended to identify the man as hailing from the U.S. according to the Daily Mail.

“So we will hand him over to the United States of America, we'll put him in a coffin, cover him with the American flag with respect because he did not die in his bed as a grandpa, but he died at war and most likely a worthy [death], right?” Prigozhin asked rhetorically.

A report from the Idaho Statesman has since identified the man as Nick Maimer, 45, a retired U.S. veteran from Boise who had spent the last year training civilians to fight in defense of Ukraine.