Top Russian generals killed, fired, disappeared after aborted Wagner mutiny

Gen. Sergei Surovikin and Vladimir Putin
(Image credit: Alexey Druzhinin / Sputnik / AFP via Getty Images)

A Russian lawmaker said Wednesday that one Russian commander in Ukraine, Maj. Gen. Ivan Popov, had been removed from duty and another, Lt. Gen. Oleg Tsokov, was killed in a Ukrainian missile strike on Monday. The death of Tsokov, the deputy commander of Russia's Southern Military District, was "one of the highest-level losses for Russia during the course of the war," The New York Times reported.

Russian MP Andrei Gurulyov said Tsokov "died heroically" in the occupied town of Berdiansk. He also posted an audio recording of Popov saying he had been fired as commander of the 58th Army, which has been fighting in Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia region, for raising questions about the high Russian casualty rate and lack of artillery support. "It was necessary either to keep quiet and be a coward or to say it the way it is," he said. Popov accused senior military leaders of treason.

Popov is one of at least 15 senior military officers suspended or fired since Wagner paramilitary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin led a short-lived mutiny against Russia's military chiefs, The Wall Street Journal reported. And another top commander, Gen. Sergei Surovikin, is one of at least 13 officers who has been detained or arrested. Surovikin, the head of aerospace forces and former top Russian commander in Ukraine, has not been seen publicly since the mutiny, and another Russian lawmaker, Andrei Kartapolov, said Wednesday the general was "taking a rest" and "unavailable right now." Surovikin, the Journal reported, is being held and interrogated in Moscow. He is an ally of Prigozhin, who has also vanished from public view.

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Meanwhile, Russian authorities arrested a Ukrainian man they accused of fatally shooting a former Russian submarine commander, Capt. Second Rank Stanislav Rzhitsky, as he was jogging in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar. Ukraine's military intelligence claimed Tuesday that Rzhitsky had commanded a submarine that was involved in missile attacks on Ukraine, and Russian law enforcement reportedly got the alleged Ukrainian gunman to confess to being recruited by Ukrainian intelligence to gun Rzhitsky down.

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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.