Two more senior Russian military and intelligence figures have been killed, bringing yet more woe to Vladimir Putin as Ukraine’s armed forces drive deeper into the eastern Donbas region to liberate more occupied territory.
The first, Aleksei Nagin, was a highly respected commander in the infamous PMC Wagner Group – a private army headed by close Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin – which has been instrumental in supporting Russia’s invasion.
Nagin, a three-time Order of Courage recipient, was killed on September 20 as Ukrainian troops advanced further into the Donetsk and repelled Russian forces.
Meanwhile in the southern Kherson region, Colonel Aleksei Katerinichev – a career FSB secret service officer and deputy head of Russia’s occupying forces in Kherson – was hit in a ‘pinpoint’ strike by a HIMARS missile today, according to a Russian news agency report.
Katerinichev was a veteran of more than 20 counter-terrorist operations and a key architect of Russian operations in southern Ukraine.
The deaths of such esteemed military personnel just 10 days apart underscores the frailty of Putin’s ‘military operation’, even as the warmongering Russian president today signed agreements formally incorporating the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions into the Russian Federation.
Zaporizhzhia and Kherson are only partially controlled by Russia, while Putin’s troops in the key city of Lyman in the northern Donetsk have been almost completely surrounded by Ukrainian forces in the latest counter-offensive.
Aleksei Nagin (L) was a highly respected commander in the infamous PMC Wagner Group – a private army headed by close Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin. Aleksei Katerinichev (R) was a career FSB secret service officer and deputy head of Russia’s occupying forces in Kherson
Nagin was a distinguished soldier, having seen combat in Chechnya and Georgia with the Russian army before signing a contract with PMC Wagner as a mercenary
A junkyard of destroyed army vehicles near Izyum, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, 29 September 2022
(L-R) The Moscow-appointed heads of Kherson region Vladimir Saldo and Zaporizhzhia region Yevgeny Balitsky, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Donetsk separatist leader Denis Pushilin and Lugansk separatist leader Leonid Pasechnik react after signing treaties formally annexing four regions of Ukraine
The death of Nagin represents a significant blow for PMC Wagner, who posthumously awarded the veteran combatant their Platinum Star award.
Nagin was a distinguished soldier, having seen combat in Chechnya and Georgia with the Russian army before signing a contract with PMC Wagner as a mercenary and deploying to both Syria and Libya.
He was also posthumously granted the title of Hero of Russia, and was designated the hero of both the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics (LPR and DPR).
Katerinichev meanwhile held the position of first deputy chairman of the Moscow-installed Kherson civil military administration – effectively making him the second in command of the partially occupied region.
Russia today completed its plan to formally annex huge swathes of Ukrainian territory as Putin signed an official decree recognising the incorporation of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson into the Russian Federation.
The president was pictured celebrating in Moscow today after signing the papers along with the pro-Russian heads of each partially controlled area, where sham referenda were held in a pathetic attempt to legitimise the annexation.
But the seemingly jubilant scene in the Russian capital belied the despairing situation confronting many of Putin’s troops tasked with holding the freshly annexed territories.
Several Russian units currently find themselves trapped in the city of Lyman in northern Donetsk, with Ukrainian forces encircling their positions and only a slim spit of land through which to retreat deeper into Donetsk.
Moscow’s soldier spent weeks and suffered considerable losses amid their attempt to take Lyman back in the spring.
DPR leader Denis Pushilin this morning confirmed that several settlements close to Lyman had been attacked by Ukrainian troops, hours before he met with Putin for annexation celebrations.
DPR leader Denis Pushilin (2-R) this morning confirmed that several settlements close to Lyman had been attacked by Ukrainian troops, hours before he met with Putin (C) for annexation celebrations (pictured)
An Ukrainian soldier looks out from a tank, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in the frontline city of Lyman, Donetsk region (file photo)
‘Friends, the news about [Lyman] is disturbing. The [Ukrainian military] is trying its best to somehow overshadow a historical event for us, Pushilin said.
‘Svatovo is under our control but is under fire periodically. Yampol and Drobyshevo are not fully controlled by us.
‘Our guys are fighting, we are pulling up reserves, we must hold out, but the enemy has also committed serious force. Very unpleasant news, but we must look soberly at the situation and draw conclusions from our mistakes. We’ll cope with everything!’
The pro-Russian telegram channel Rybar said that ‘the boiler’ around Lyman has almost completely closed.
‘If emergency measures are not taken in the near future to unblock Liman and transfer a significant part of the reserves, then the city, together with its defenders, will fall,’ Rybar wrote, while military correspondent of pro-Kremlin newspaper ‘Komsomolskaya Pravda’ Alexander Kots said the situation was ‘critical’.