A Ukrainian air strike on a Russian air base in occupied Crimea killed a top General and ten other servicemen, Russian media has reported.
Lieutenant General Alexander Tatarenko died in an attack on the Belbek air base on Wednesday, according to the Crimean Wind Telegram channel.
Kyiv Post could not independently verify the report and officials in both Kyiv and Moscow have yet to comment.
Tatarenko was in overall charge of the Belbek air base, the Russian Federation’s most-developed and best-defended air force base in the Black Sea region.
It’s home to the 38th Fighter Aviation Regiment of the Russian Air Force which flies Su-30SM2 and Su-27 aircraft.
On Wednesday, at least three Ukrainian Sukhoi Su-24 (NATO reporting name: Fencer) attack bombers carried out the main effort of the attack, launching a minimum of six British Storm Shadow or French SCALP cruise missiles at targets around the base, near the Crimean city of Sevastopol.
Crimean social media first reported explosions in local air space at around 4 p. m. and the last blasts about 90 minutes later.
Two missiles reportedly hit the command post of the 38th Fighter Aviation Regiment, and another missile eliminated the airfield’s communications center.
Video reportedly recorded by an on-the-ground observer, and released by the Ukrainian Air Force, showed at least two fires burning at Belbek airfield, and a Russian interceptor missile being launched from the ground.
Sixty-three-year-old Tatarenko was appointed commander of the 14th Air Force and Air Defense Army of the Central Military District of the Russian Federation in 2016.
He served in the Far East, the Urals, Siberia and the northern regions of the Russian Federation.
If his death is confirmed, it’s yet another blow for Moscow’s military leadership which has suffered a string of fatalities during the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
To date, the highest-ranking Russian general confirmed killed in Ukraine is that of Lieutenant General Oleg Yuryevich Tsokov, who was killed in July 2023 by a Ukrainian airstrike in Berdyansk using British Storm Shadow cruise missiles.
But there is ongoing speculation that Russia’s Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov was killed in a strike on a Russian command post in occupied Crimea earlier this month.
And there is still no sign of Admiral Viktor Sokolov, the Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF) commander who was reported killed by a Ukrainian cruise missile strike on his headquarters in September.
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