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Double blow for Putin as Ukraine kills two more of his top commanders and begins to encircle Lyman

Aleksei Nagin was a highly respected commander of the infamous PMC Wagner group

Two other senior Russian military and intelligence officials have been killed, causing further woe for Vladimir Putin as Ukraine’s armed forces push deeper into the eastern Donbass region to liberate more occupied territory.

The first, Aleksei Nagin, was a well-respected commander of the infamous PMC Wagner Group – a private army led by close Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin – which was instrumental in supporting the Russian invasion.

Nagin, a three-time recipient of the Order of Courage, was killed on September 20 as Ukrainian troops advanced further into Donetsk and pushed back Russian forces.

Meanwhile, in the southern Kherson region, Colonel Aleksei Katerinichev – a career FSB intelligence officer and deputy head of the Russian occupation forces in Kherson – was hit today in a “point-in-time” strike by a HIMARS missile, according to a report by the Russian news agency.

Katerinichev was a veteran of more than 20 counterterrorism operations and a key architect of Russian operations in southern Ukraine.

The deaths of servicemen also believed to be just 10 days apart underscores the fragility of Putin’s ‘military operation’, even as the warmongering Russian president today signed agreements officially incorporating the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in the Russian Federation.

Zaporizhzhia and Kherson are only partially controlled by Russia, while Putin’s troops in the key town of Lyman in northern Donetsk were almost completely surrounded by Ukrainian forces in the latest counteroffensive.

Aleksei Nagin was a highly respected commander of the infamous PMC Wagner group

Aleksei Katerinichev was a career FSB secret service officer and deputy head of the Russian occupation forces in Kherson

Aleksei Nagin (L) was a highly respected commander of the infamous PMC Wagner Group – a private army led by close Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin. Aleksei Katerinichev (R) was a career FSB secret service officer and deputy head of the Russian occupation forces in Kherson

Nagin was a distinguished soldier, having fought in Chechnya and Georgia with the Russian army before signing a contract with PMC Wagner as a mercenary.

Nagin was a distinguished soldier, having fought in Chechnya and Georgia with the Russian army before signing a contract with PMC Wagner as a mercenary.

A junkyard of destroyed military vehicles near Izyum, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, September 29, 2022

A junkyard of destroyed military vehicles near Izyum, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, September 29, 2022

(L-R) Moscow-appointed heads of Kherson region Vladimir Saldo and Zaporizhzhia region Yevgeny Balitsky, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Donetsk separatist leader Denis Pushilin and Luhansk separatist leader Leonid Pasechnik react after the signing of treaties formally annexing four regions of Ukraine

(L-R) Moscow-appointed heads of Kherson region Vladimir Saldo and Zaporizhzhia region Yevgeny Balitsky, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Donetsk separatist leader Denis Pushilin and Luhansk separatist leader Leonid Pasechnik react after the signing of treaties formally annexing four regions of Ukraine

Nagin’s death represents a blow to PMC Wagner, who posthumously awarded the veteran fighter their Platinum Star award.

Nagin was a distinguished soldier, having fought in Chechnya and Georgia with the Russian army before signing a contract with PMC Wagner as a mercenary and deploying to Syria and Libya.

He was also posthumously awarded the title Hero of Russia and designated the Hero of the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics (LPR and DPR).

Meanwhile, Katerinichev held the post of first vice-president of the Moscow-based Kherson Military Civil Administration – making him second-in-command of the partially occupied region.

Russia today completed its plan to officially annex large swathes of Ukrainian territory as Putin signed an official decree recognizing the incorporation of Lugansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson into the Russian Federation.

The President was pictured celebrating in Moscow today after signing the papers with pro-Russian leaders from each partially controlled area, where fake referendums have been held in a pathetic attempt to legitimize annexation.

But the seemingly jubilant scene in the Russian capital belied the dire straits facing many of Putin’s troops tasked with holding newly annexed territories.

Several Russian units currently find themselves trapped in the town of Lyman in northern Donetsk, with Ukrainian forces encircling their positions and only a thin spit of land through which to retreat deeper into Donetsk.

The Moscow soldier spent weeks and suffered considerable casualties amid his attempt to recapture Lyman in the spring.

DPR leader Denis Pushilin confirmed this morning that several settlements near Lyman had been attacked by Ukrainian troops, hours before his meeting with Putin for the annexation celebrations.

DPR leader Denis Pushilin (2-R) confirmed this morning that several settlements near Lyman had been attacked by Ukrainian troops, hours before his meeting with Putin (C) for annexation celebrations ( Photo)

DPR leader Denis Pushilin (2-R) confirmed this morning that several settlements near Lyman had been attacked by Ukrainian troops, hours before his meeting with Putin (C) for annexation celebrations ( Photo)

A Ukrainian soldier watches from a tank, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in the frontline town of Lyman, Donetsk region (file photo)

A Ukrainian soldier watches from a tank, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in the frontline town of Lyman, Donetsk region (file photo)

‘Friends, the news of [Lyman] is disturbing. The [Ukrainian military] did its best to eclipse a historic event for us, Pushilin said.

“Svatovo is under our control but periodically comes under fire. Yampol and Drobyshevo are not fully controlled by us.

“Our guys are fighting, we are replenishing reserves, we have to hold on, but the enemy has also committed a serious force.” Very unpleasant news, but we must look at the situation with sobriety and draw conclusions from our mistakes. We will take care of everything!

The pro-Russian telegram channel Rybar said the “boiler” around Lyman was almost completely shut down.

“If urgent measures are not taken in the near future to unblock Liman and transfer a significant part of the reserves, then the city, with its defenders, will fall,” wrote Rybar, while the military correspondent of the pro- Kremlin’ Komsomolskaya Pravda Alexander Kots said the situation was “critical”.

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