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Ukraine's army claims to have killed a seventh Russian colonel since Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion little over a month ago.
Colonel Denis Kurilo was reportedly "eliminated" outside the key city of Kharkiv as his 200th separate motorised rifle brigade fell to fierce defence of the city.
The victory was dramatically announced by Ukrainian news agency unian.net via a photo of Kurilo speaking with a red cross struck through it.
According to Ukraine, the number of Russian military chiefs wiped out since they waged war on their neighbours on February 24 now totals seven.
On the 34th day of fighting, Kurilo fell in Kharkiv alongside 1,500 of his soldiers across two battalion tactical groups of the 200th, Ukraine claims.
The defeat outside Kharkiv brings Russia's loss of troops up to a staggering 17,200 and many thousands more wounded as of yesterday (Tuesday, March 29).
A change of strategy is now being deployed by Russia which appears to have gravely misjudged the strength of resistance it would face during its so-called "special operation".
Russian Deputy Defence Minister Alexander Fomin says it will "drastically reduce" forces near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and in the Chernihiv region.
Fomin said Moscow will "cut back military activity in the direction of Kyiv and Chernihiv to increase mutual trust and create conditions for further negotiations".
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The announcement came as the Ukrainian military leadership had said it had begun to notice Russian troop withdrawals from Kyiv and Chernihiv.
Ukrainian government adviser Anton Gerashchenko responded to the announcement with scepticism saying: "These statements are absolute lies intended to win time for strengthening Russian positions."
Britain’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace added: "They must think that we were born yesterday."
Ukrainian forces are thought to be behind a huge explosion at a Russian military camp just across the border last night (Tuesday, March 29).
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Unconfirmed footage from two local Russian news outlets appears to show massive fireballs coming from ammunition blowing up at a suspected temporary army base near Belgorod in Russia.
A source speaking to the Russian TASS news agency said a weapon had been fired from the Ukrainian side, and cited an emergency services source as saying four people had been injured in the blast.
If true, it would mark the first time the Ukrainian military has hit personnel on Russian side of the border since the outbreak of the conflict.
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Putin's military chiefs may be lying to him about how badly Russia's invasion of Ukraine is going, western officials believe.
Despite their loyalty to the President, army generals are believed to be uncomfortable sharing with him the true extent of the challenges and setbacks Russian forces have faced over the past month.
One western official believes the Kremlin top brass are too scared to tell Putin what is really going on over the border to avoid being hammered for their mistake.
- Vladimir Putin
- Russia Ukraine war
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