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Top Russian naval commander died near Mariupol, Russia said, latest senior officer killed in Ukraine

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Civilians trapped in Mariupol are evacuated on March 20, 2022. Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Civilians trapped in Mariupol are evacuated on March 20, 2022. Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
  • The deputy commander of Russia's Black Sea fleet was killed near the besieged city of Mariupol, Russian officials said. 
  • Andrei Paly is the latest senior Russian official to be killed in the war with Ukraine.
  • US officials said Russian military setbacks had caused top officials to take unusually advanced positions, leaving them vulnerable to attack.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

The deputy commander of Russia's Black Sea fleet was killed in combat near the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, Russian officials said.

Captain 1st rank Andrei Paly is the latest senior Russian officer to be killed in the war with Ukraine.

His death was announced on Sunday by Mikhail Razvozhayev, the pro-Russian governor of the Ukrainian city of Sevastopol, on Telegram.

"Andrei Nikolaevich chose as the mission of his life to defend the Motherland and died for our peaceful future," Razvozhayev wrote, according to the Russian news outlet MKRU. 

Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula city of Sevastopol from Ukraine in 2014, and bases its Black Sea fleet there. 

Ekaterina Altabaeva, a senator in Sevastopol, also announced Paly's death on Russia's VK social-media network.

"Sevastopol has suffered a heavy, irreparable loss... Paly died in the battles for the liberation of Mariupol from the Nazis," wrote Altabaeva, referring to Russian propaganda's attempt to portray its invasion as a mission to "denazify" Ukraine.

Paly's death was also confirmed by the secretary of the Nakhimov naval college, Konstantin Tsarenko, on VK, BBC Monitoring reported.

The Russian defence ministry has not confirmed Paly's death, however.

An unusually high number of senior Russian officials have been killed in Ukraine.

US officials told The New York Times last week that four Russian generals had been killed in stalled invasion so far, with military setbacks leading them to take unusually advanced positions to personally direct operations, leaving them vulnerable to attack.

Over the weekend, Ukraine said its forces had killed a fifth Russian general, Lieutenant-General Andrei Mordvichev, near Kyiv. 

Russian forces have for weeks been besieging Mariupol, where around 30,000 civilians remain trapped with no electricity or running water, and limited food supplies. Ukrainian forces rejected a Russian offer to relinquish control of the city on Sunday.

According to Russian media outlet Kommersant, Paly, 51, was born in Kyiv and defected to the Russian navy in 1993. He was appointed deputy commander of the Black Sea fleet in 2019, the report said.

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