Russia’s top uniformed officer, General Valery Gerasimov, visited dangerous frontline positions in eastern Ukraine last week in a bid to reinvigorate the Russian offensive there, the New York Times has reported citing Ukrainian and US officials.
During the visit, Gerasimov, chief of the Russian general staff, narrowly escaped a deadly Ukrainian attack on a school being used as a military base in the Russian-controlled city of Izium late Saturday, the Times reported.
About 200 soldiers including at least one general were killed in the strike, a Ukrainian official told the paper, but Gerasimov had already departed for Russia.
The Institute for the Study of War, a US-based think tank, earlier said that Ukrainian forces had “likely conducted a rocket artillery strike on a Russian command post in Izyum on April 30 that struck after Russian chief of staff Valery Gerasimov had left but killed other senior Russian officers.”
US officials could not confirm the attack and the Russian Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Our working assumption is that he was there because there’s a recognition they haven’t worked out all their problems yet,” one of the US officials told the Times. The Russian offensive has been slow, with widespread disarray and poor morale reported among Russian forces.
The Kremlin appears to be focusing its operations around the city of Izium as part of renewed efforts to seize the entirety of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Gerasimov has reportedly been put in command of the push.