VLADIMIR Putin has lost his 50th colonel in Ukraine – just one day after two of his generals were wiped out in the same ambush.
Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Nigmatullin, 46, was killed on May 31 – but his death was only disclosed by Russian forces today.
It's not clear how the father-of-three from Yekaterinburg died.
His sister-in-law Marina Konyukhova paid tribute to him on social media, describing him as an "amazing husband" to her sister.
She said: "I am always proud of you, and I will always be proud.
"You set an example to the Motherland, so that everyone does like you did… you went through a lot of conflict areas."
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Putin has lost nearly one colonel every two days in the shambolic Ukraine invasion, bringing the tally to 50.
So far, more than 31,200 Russian troops have been killed, according to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
The toll includes one of Putin's most notorious mercenaries – dubbed "The Executioner" – who was reportedly killed by a Ukrainian sniper.
Vladimir Andonov, part of the notorious Wagner Group of Russian mercenaries, was said to be involved in the shooting of Ukrainian prisoners of war during fighting in the Donas back in 2014.
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The 44-year-old, who is from the Buryatia region of Russia's Far East, is believed to have been shot dead in the Kharkiv region of eastern Ukraine.
The Ukrainian military claims Russia has lost 1,386 tanks, 3,400 armoured fighting vehicles, 690 artillery systems, 207 multiple launch rocket systems, and 96 anti-aircraft systems.
The army has also lost 211 warplanes, 176 helicopters, 2,395 motor vehicles and fuel tankers, 13 vessels, 551 unmanned aerial vehicles, 53 units of special equipment, and 125 cruise missiles.
It comes as Ukraine reportedly wiped out two of Putin's generals in a single strike – bringing the death toll of top-rank Russian commanders to 12.
Lieutenant General Roman Berdnikov, 47, and Major General Roman Kutuzov were allegedly killed in the same ambush in eastern Ukraine on Sunday.
According to a report on Telegram by state TV reporter Alexander Sladkov, the two generals died after their convoy was ambushed on a bridge in Donetsk region.
Kutuzov's death has reportedly been confirmed by the Russians, but there has been no comment on Berdnikov.
Berdnikov, former commander of the Russian armed forces in Syria, would be the 12th general to have been killed in the war.
BATTLE FOR SIEVIERODONETSK
It means the two most senior Russian commanders in Donetsk would have been wiped out in one strike in a stunning setback to Putin.
Russian forces have intensified attacks to capture Sievierodonetsk – a key city in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukraine will fight to recover all its territory occupied by Russian forces as his troops face one of the bloodiest battles of the war in the city.
"We have already lost too many people to simply cede our territory," he said by video link at an event.
He said stalemate was "not an option", adding: "We have to achieve a full deoccupation of our entire territory."
Zelenskiy's remarks were a forceful response to suggestions Ukraine must cede territory to Russia to end the war – which is now in its fourth month.
Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk told Ukrainian television the soldiers are doing everything possible to hold their position in the frontline city of Sievierodonetsk – even as Russia sends more troops to the area.
The fight for the small eastern industrial city has emerged as a pivotal battle.
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After saying for days that Ukrainian forces had recaptured substantial territory, Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said the situation had again deteriorated.
Other Ukrainian officials spoke of heavy battles underway, while Moscow said its own troops have been advancing.
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