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A senior Russian military commander was shot dead inside Russia this week in a stunning blow to Vladimir Putin’s forces. Colonel Andrei Vasilyevich Stesyev was killed by anti-Putin and Russian nationalist forces in Belgorod Oblast. The Free Russia Legion, an anti-Kremlin armed group that claims to fight on Ukraine’s side, claimed responsibility for the killing.
The 52-year-old Russian colonel is understood to have been killed during street fights with the militias.
The fight took place in the village of Novaya Tavolzhanka near the Russian-Ukrainian border.
The village has been the site of intense fighting between anti-Putin militias and Russian troops.
The Free Russia Legion is fighting alongside another anti-Kremlin militia, the Russian Volunteer Corps.
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In a video message announcing the death of the Russian commander, the Free Russia Legion said: “Criminals like him, who stained their hands up to their elbows in the blood of civilians, are always met with just retribution.
“Every war criminal will face a decent punishment in court.
“If they survive, of course, in the meat grinder of the war they started.”
They added in a later message: “On his orders, he and his subordinates had systematically terrorised the population of Belgorod Oblast and violated their rights and freedoms.
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“Earlier, Stesev killed civilians in Chechnya, Yugoslavia, Abkhazia and Ukraine.”
The killing was later confirmed by Ukraine’s military intelligence.
He was identified as a commander of the 104th Guards Air Assault Regiment, which has been accused of taking part in the Bucha massacre in March 2022.
This comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that Ukraine had begun its expected counteroffensive against Russian forces.
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Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military has launched an intense assault on occupying Russian forces in the southern Zaporizhzhia region.
Russian officials and military bloggers claim Ukrainian troops – backed by tanks, artillery, and drones – are trying to advance south of the town of Orikhiv.
Military experts claim that Kyiv could be trying to regain access to the Sea of Azov, which would split the occupying Russian forces in the region into two groupings.
This strategy would also eliminate a land bridge to Crimea, the southern peninsula illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.
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