Crisis in the Crosshairs: High-Ranking Russian General Taken Down in Ukrainian Strike
Hit on Hotel Kills Russian General
In a significant escalation of the ongoing conflict, a senior Russian general has reportedly been killed in a missile strike in Ukraine.
Russian sources have confirmed the death of Lt Gen Oleg Tsokov following a hit on a hotel sheltering Russian military commanders in the southern coastal city of Berdyansk, an area currently under Ukrainian occupation.
Russia's defense ministry has not officially announced the death of Tsokov, the deputy commander of Russia's southern military district. However, the news is reverberating through Russian war channels on the Telegram messaging app. Olga Skabeyeva, a TV host on the state-run Rossiya-1 channel, has reported on this development, stating, "absolutely all media" are covering the story.
According to Skabeyeva, Tsokov was assassinated by a Storm Shadow missile supplied by the UK. Andrei Gurulyov, a retired general and current member of parliament who appeared on Skabeyeva's popular '60 Minutes' show, revealed that Tsokov had returned to Ukraine despite being severely injured in the early stages of the conflict. Tsokov sustained injuries in September while commanding Russia's 144th Motorized Infantry Division in Svatove, an occupied territory in eastern Ukraine.
Military Informant and WarGonzo, renowned war bloggers on Telegram, also confirmed Tsokov's death. These military bloggers have become a critical source of information, filling the gap left by Moscow's silence on such matters. Ukrainian officials have also shed light on the incident.
Initial reports suggest that Tsokov was killed during a Ukrainian assault that obliterated a hotel accommodating Russian military commanders in Berdyansk, a southeastern city located on the coast of the Azov Sea. Although images and videos from various parts of Berdyansk have circulated on social media, none precisely indicate the site of the blast.
The BBC's Verify service has authenticated a photo displaying a smoke column emanating from the vicinity of the Dune Hotel, supposedly the target of the attack. Local social media accounts indicate that the strike happened at approximately 0400 local time on 11 July, with claims that the hotel was entirely flattened.
The UK government had previously announced in May that it had provided Ukraine with an undisclosed quantity of Storm Shadow cruise missiles. These missiles, which boast a range triple that of those previously used by Kyiv, make launching precision strikes significantly more manageable.
Although Ukraine has previously claimed responsibility for attacking Russian military commanders in Berdyansk, there was initial doubt regarding Tsokov's presence in the city.
At the time of this report, the defense ministry had not publicly declared his promotion from commander of the 144th Motorised Infantry Division in eastern Ukraine to deputy commander of Russia's Southern Military District, which includes parts of southern Russia and occupied Ukraine territories. This lack of communication has led to uncertainty surrounding changes in command and overall operations on the Russian side.