Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military in Ukraine is suffering from “extreme attrition” and “high turnover,” according to a Saturday report from the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense (MOD).
The British defense ministry added that the trend is seen “even amongst relatively senior ranks.”
The MOD report comes as Western analysts have reported on recent gains made in Kyiv’s counteroffensive, including successful operations in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia and advancements near the Donetsk region settlement of Bakhmut. Putin’s military was also dealt a major blow on Friday when a Ukrainian attack on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet’s headquarters in the Crimean city of Sevastopol reportedly left dozens killed or wounded.
The latest intelligence update from the MOD focused on setbacks suffered by the 247th Guards Air Assault Landing Regiment, which the ministry called “one of Russia’s most prestigious airborne regiments.”
According to the British MOD, three successive commanders of one of the airborne regiment “have either resigned or been killed.”
Newsweek reached out to Russia’s Ministry of Defense via email for comment.
“The 247th Guards Air Assault Landing Regiment commander Colonel Vasily Popov was likely killed in the heavily contested Orikhiv sector in early September 2023,” the intelligence report reads.
The British agency noted that Vasily Popov’s predecessor, Colonel Pytor Popov, “likely resigned” from his position only weeks earlier in August.
“Independent Russian media sources claim he acted in protest over the military’s failure to recover the bodies of Russian casualties,” the MOD said of Pytor Popov’s resignation.
The intelligence update said another commander of the 247th Guards Air Assault Landing Regiment named Colonel Konstantin Zizevsky was killed near the southern Ukrainian port city of Mykolaiv during the early weeks of Putin’s invasion in 2022.
The MOD report concluded by stating that the loss of commanders has become common throughout Putin’s forces.
“The experience of the 247th highlights the extreme attrition and high turnover in Russia’s deployed military, even amongst relatively senior ranks,” the MOD said.
On Monday, the U.K.’s MOD also reported how Russia has been using units from its VDV Airborne Forces to reinforce its “over-stretched” infantry troops on the front line in Zaporizhzhia.
The ministry said Russia is increasingly turning to the elite paratroopers force as its ground troops continue to struggle against Ukraine’s military. The Monday report noted that such deployment is taking a toll on the airborne branch, and officials are likely not pleased as a result.
“At full strength, such a force should constitute around 10,000 elite paratroopers. However, almost all units are highly likely dramatically under strength,” the MOD wrote. “The current situation is likely to be seen as highly unsatisfactory by the VDV hierarchy.”