Fourth Russian general killed in Ukraine as Putin's forces 'struggle with terrain'

16 March 2022, 12:22 | Updated: 16 March 2022, 12:37

The besieged city of Mariupol. Inset: Russian president Vladimir Putin
The besieged city of Mariupol. Inset: Russian president Vladimir Putin. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

A fourth Russian general has died in battle as the Ministry of Defence claims the country's forces are "struggling to overcome the challenges posed by Ukraine's terrain".

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Major General Oleg Mityaev died on Tuesday during the storming of the port city of Mariupol, Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko said.

He published a photo on Telegram of what he said was the dead officer.

READ MORE: 'Poland will be next': Ukrainian MP's stark warning on West inaction against Putin

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It comes after Major General Andrei Kolesnikov was reported dead last week.

This followed the deaths of Major General Vitaly Gerasimov, who was killed by Ukrainian forces in battle near Kharkiv, and Major General Andrei Sukhovetsky, was reportedly shot and killed by a sniper near Mariupol.

The MoD says Russia's advance has been stymied by a lack of manoeuvrability, which has been "adeptly exploited" by Ukrainian forces.

In its latest defence intelligence update, it wrote on Twitter: "Russian forces are struggling to overcome the challenges posed by Ukraine's terrain.

"Russian forces have remained largely tied to Ukraine's road network and have demonstrated a reluctance to conduct off-road manoeuvre. The destruction of bridges by Ukrainian forces has also played a key role in stalling Russia's advance.

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"Russia's continued failure to gain control of the air has drastically limited their ability to effectively use air manoeuvre, further limiting their options.

"The tactics of the Ukrainian armed forces have adeptly exploited Russia's lack of manoeuvre, frustrating the Russian advance and inflicting heavy losses on the invading forces."

Russia's invasion is nearing the three-week mark.

Ukraine has said it sees possible room for compromise in peace talks despite Moscow stepping up its bombardment of Kyiv and launching new assaults on Mariupol.

The fast-moving developments on the diplomatic front and on the ground came as delegations from Ukraine and Russia met again on Tuesday via video.

'In a curious way, Putin now needs Zelenskyy'

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said early on Wednesday that Russia's demands were becoming "more realistic".

The two sides were expected to speak again on Wednesday.

Before Tuesday's talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow would press its demands that Ukraine drop its bid to join Nato, adopt a neutral status and "demilitarise".

In a statement that seemed to signal potential grounds for agreement, Mr Zelenskyy later told European leaders gathered in London that he realises Nato has no intention of accepting Ukraine.

In other developments, the leaders of three European Union countries - Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia - visited the embattled capital on Tuesday, arriving by train in a bold show of support amid the danger.

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