Russia’s highest-ranking general dodges Ukraine attack in secret trip to front line

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Russia’s top general went on a secret mission to the war’s front late last week to try to shore up his flailing troops — and Ukraine attempted to take him out with a rocket but missed, a report said Sunday.

Gen. Valery Gerasimov — chief of staff of Russia’s forces and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s righthand military man — embarked on the highly unusual and risky journey to the town of Izium to try to “change the course” of what has been a lackluster offensive, the New York Times said, citing who it described as a senior Ukrainian official and a US official with knowledge of the situation.

Russian troops have set up camp in Izium to try to support their gains in the Russia-adjacent Donbas region.

The US official said Gerasimov had been in the region for a “couple days” when Ukrainian forces caught wind of his visit and launched an attack Saturday evening on a local school that had been taken over by Russian forces and which the general had been hunkered down in earlier in the day, the Times said.

By the time of the Ukrainian attack, the general had already left to return to Russia, the outlet said.

About 200 Russian troops were killed in the Ukrainian attack.
AP/Efrem Lukatsky

Still, around 200 Russian troops were killed — possibly including Russian Maj. Gen. Andrei Simonov, who commanded the forces in the town, the Times said.

Gerasimov was reportedly one of the architects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has suffered serious setbacks.

For now, at least, Russia has given up entirely on claiming Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and is instead attempting to consolidate control over the Donbas, experts have said.

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