Putin dealt crushing blow: 100th colonel dead hours after devastating explosion at base

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VLADIMIR PUTIN has now lost at least 100 colonels during the war in Ukraine in the latest blow to his plan, with a top US official claiming 80,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded in the fighting.

Crimea: Saki Air Base heavily damaged by cruise missile

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Lieutenant-Colonel Vitaly Tsikul, 36, who was also a tank commander, has become the latest senior Russian casualty during the war in Ukraine. Russian media has showed footage of his funeral taking place in the town of Chebarkul, central Russia. Tsikul served in the Russian 90th Tank Division, and was accorded full military honours at his funeral. No details have been revealed about the circumstances behind his death in Ukraine.

Viktor, a soldier at the funeral, said: “He was our commander.

“I did not hear a single bad word from him. He was an officer who rallied his troops.”

The latest blow to Vladimir Putin comes as one person was killed when a Russian air base near seaside resorts in the annexed Crimean peninsula was rocked by explosions.

Witnesses heard at least 12 explosions at around 3.20pm local time on Tuesday from the Saky air base near Novofedorivka on the west coast of the peninsula, which was used by Russia early in the war as one of the launchpads for its invasion.

russia colonel dead

Putin news: Lieutenant-Colonel Vitaly Tsikul is the 100th known colonel killed during the war (Image: REUTERS/EAST2WEST)

vladimir putin

Putin news: The Russian President has suffered another massive blow (Image: GETTY)

Russia’s defence ministry insisted the “detonation of several aviation ammunition stores” had caused an explosion.

It maintained no attack had taken place and no aviation equipment had been damaged.

Mykhailo Podolyak, who advises President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, told the Dozhd online television channel, Ukraine is not taking responsibility for the explosions.

He said: “Of course not. What do we have to do with this?”

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russian colonel killed

Putin news: Vitaly Tsikul has become the latest senior Russian casualty during the war (Image: EAST2WEST/SOCIAL MEDIA)

The presidential adviser suggested the blast could be down to Russian incompetence or an attack by partisans.

An anonymous military source was quoted as telling Russian news agencies: “There are no signs, evidence or, even less, facts (to indicate) a deliberate impact on ammunition stores.”

President Zelensky stopped short of mentioning the blast in his regular evening address video to the country.

Reiterating Kyiv’s position that Crimea would have to be returned to Ukraine, he said: “The Black Sea region cannot be safe while Crimea is occupied.”

crimea explosion

Putin news: A Russian airbase in the Crimea peninsula was rocked by explosions (Image: REUTERS)

crimea russian base explosion

Putin news: Russia maintained no attack had taken place (Image: REUTERS)

Earlier this week, the Pentagon’s top policy official said Russia may have suffered as many as 80,000 casualties since the Ukraine war began on February 24.

Colin Kahl, Defence Department under secretary for policy, said: “There’s a lot of fog in war but I think it’s safe to suggest that the Russians have probably taken 70 or 80,000 casualties in the less than six months.

“Now, that is a combination of killed in action and wounded in action and that number might be a little lower, a little higher, but I think that’s kind of in the ballpark.”

russia war nato

Putin news: NATO battlegroups line up against Russia (Image: EXPRESS)

That Russian casualty figure is much higher than previous estimates from the US.

Late last month, CIA Director William Burns estimated 15,000 Russians have died in Ukraine and some 45,000 have been wounded.

But he admitted these intelligence estimates are “always a range”, and “there’s no perfect number”.

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Paul Wekem

Paul Wekem

Paul Wekem Ghanaian security specialist is well versed in managing and directing the implementation of security standards and policies including total integrated security solutions to optimize controls. He is proficient in the establishment and development of external relationships with stakeholders, negotiating and influencing at all levels

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