Two top Russian officers were killed on the frontline in eastern Ukraine over the weekend, Moscow’s Ministry of Defense said on Sunday, in a rare disclosure of high-level casualties.
The commanders died attempting to repel Ukrainian forces around the embattled city of Bakhmut, officials said. They were identified as Colonel Vyacheslav Makarov, commander of the 4th motorized rifle brigade, and Colonel Yevgeny Brovko, the deputy commander of the army corps. Their deaths were confirmed by ministry representative Lieutenant-General Igor Konashenkov, according to the state-run news agency TASS.
Makarov was “personally” leading a battle on the front lines when he was seriously wounded, Konashenkov said in a statement, dying as he was evacuated from the battlefield. Brovko similarly “heroically died after receiving multiple shrapnel wounds,” he added.
The ministry claimed that “all attacks by units of Ukraine’s armed forces” from both the north and the south were repelled on Sunday, and that Kyiv had been unable to break through Russian defenses.
Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the head of the Russian Wagner Group, which has been fighting in Bakhmut, said on Telegram that his forces had gained several hundred feet of contested territory over the weekend. Earlier in the week, as Ukraine made its largest gains in Bakhmut in six months, Prigozhin complained that the panicked Russian forces were not “regrouping,” but fleeing. (Moscow said its soldiers were retreating to “more advantageous defense positions.”)
Hanna Maliar, Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, added on Sunday that forces “continue to move forward in the Bakhmut sector in the suburbs,” capturing more than 10 enemy positions around the city.
After months of crushing warfare, with Russia trying and failing to take Bakhmut, Kyiv has warned that a long-planned Ukrainian counteroffensive will likely not look like one coordinated assault—nor will it begin in the spring as earlier anticipated.
“The Armed Forces of Ukraine are not preparing some single plan for a specific time or a specific direction. Rather, every day, they prepare a vast array of defensive and counteroffensive strategies,” Maliar said last month.