VLADIMIR Putin's top military commander has been wounded in Ukraine and was sent back to Russia just days after he arrived to take charge of the war.
The Chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov had been sent by Putin to take personal control of his push to grab territory in Donbas and eastern Ukraine.
The unconfirmed claim is that Gerasimov, 66, was wounded in Izyum in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, which is at the centre of intense fighting.
It is also where Russia’s ninth general Major General Andrei Simonov, 55, was killed, according to reports today.
Footage shared on social media appears to show the strike from a rocket salvo.
The attack also reportedly destroyed over 30 Russian armoured vehicles, including tanks.
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And now an unofficial Russian source reported that Gerasimov sustained “a shrapnel wound in the upper third of the right leg without a bone fracture.
“The shard was removed – there is no danger to life.”
Ukrainian government official Anton Gerashchenko said the attack on Izyum was “the very place where…Gerasimov, who personally came to lead the attack on Slavyansk, was located”.
A “large number” of senior officers were killed, he said.
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Pro-Ukr Telegram channel Vertikal said Gerasimov had been “wounded near Izyum”.
“Our source reports that his legs and hips are damaged.”
It suggested that three of his entourage had been killed and the chief of the general staff was evacuated.
Agentstvo media outlet reported that he was flown out of the war zone initially by an Mi-8 military helicopter to Belgorod in western Russia.
Separately, a military site in Belgorod region was seen on fire in videos, caused by a suspected Ukrainian attack.
Three Ka-52 attack helicopters circled as the Mi-8 transported him and other top brass.
Then in Belgorod, he boarded a Defence Ministry Tu-154 plane which flew to an unknown destination.
Founder of independent Conflict Intelligence Team Ruslan Leviev said an eyewitness at the airport had seen Gerasimov board the plane unaided.
"The source confirms that it was Gerasimov who flew away,” he posted.
“But he went on board himself, alive and well."
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If true, his wounding even if minor by the Ukrainians is another deep psychological blow to Putin and his faltering war campaign.
Gerasimov is in charge of the Russian war campaign alongside defence minister Sergei Shoigu.
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