Ukraine reportedly found and killed at least 1 Russian general by tracing unsecured phone signal

Pro-Russia separatist in Ukraine
(Image credit: Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukraine has identified four Russian generals it says have been killed since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his invasion of Ukraine three weeks ago, and NATO officials have confirmed three of those deaths and Putin, one of them. "Western officials say that around 20 Russian generals were in Ukraine as part of the war effort, and that they may have pushed closer to the front to boost morale," which is sagging under the weight of heavy casualties, The New York Times reports.

The slain generals were identified as Maj. Gen. Andrei Kolesnikov, Maj. Gen. Vitaly Gerasimov, Maj. Gen. Andrei Sukhovetsky, and on Wednesday, Maj. Gen. Oleg Mityaev. Some of those commanders were reportedly killed in combat, but "two American military officials said that many Russian generals are talking on unsecured phones and radios," the Times reports, and "in at least one instance, they said, the Ukrainians intercepted a general's call, geolocated it, and attacked his location, killing him and his staff."

Overall, at least 7,000 Russian troops have been killed and 14,000 to 21,000 injured, according to U.S. intelligence estimates. "Losses like this affect morale and unit cohesion, especially since these soldiers don't understand why they're fighting," Evelyn Farkas, the top Pentagon official for Russia and Ukraine during the Obama administration, tells the Times. "Your overall situational awareness decreases. Someone's got to drive, someone's got to shoot."

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.