The Ukrainian military claimed to have killed yet another Russian general, this time Lieutenant-General Andrei Mordvichev, making him the fifth to die so far in the conflict.
Mordvichev, who led the 8th General Army of the Southern Military District, was killed as the result of “fire damage,” the Ukrainian armed forced announced on social media early Saturday.
Other high-ranking Russian officials, including at least one general, have been killed as the result of poor operational security after using unsecured phones and radios whose locations were traceable.
News of Mordvichev’s alleged death came as the Russian military claimed it had used its first hypersonic missiles during the Ukraine conflict to eliminate an underground weapons cache in Delyatyn, western Ukraine.
The “Kinzhal aviation missile system with hypersonic aeroballistic missiles” was activated, Major General Igor Konashenkov said in a video announcing the unconfirmed news, according to the Associated Press.
The outlet added that Russia had first deployed the high-tech missiles during its involvement in the Syrian civil war in 2016.
Russia has continued to hammer Ukraine with shelling, leaving at least 700 civilians dead, including dozens of children, according to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The attacks have frequently appeared indiscriminate. On Wednesday Russian forces reportedly struck a theater in Mariupol, Ukraine, where hundreds of people had been sheltering, even though locals had placed enormous signs on the ground alerting would-be attackers that children were inside.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted on Thursday that the majority of people inside the theater had somehow survived.
Two days later, three Russian cosmonauts made news after docking at the International Space Station wearing the colors of the Ukrainian flag. The gesture was viewed as a swipe at the invasion.
“It became our turn to pick a color. But, in fact, we had accumulated a lot of yellow material so we needed to use it,” one of the cosmonauts explained, seemingly as a tongue-in-cheek explanation, as the Guardian previously reported. “So that’s why we had to wear yellow.”
The Russian cosmonauts will spend six months at the station, and may receive a frosty reception when they touch back down to earth.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has intensified his crackdown on anti-war rhetoric. His government has blocked social media sites and threatened long jail sentences to those who disseminate supposedly “false information” about the conflict.
Several American and Western media outlets have been forced to temporarily stop operating in the country out of fear that journalists would be jailed simply for reporting the news.
Multiple Russian press reports also claimed this week that residents in Kaliningrad, Russia, had received messages inviting them to rat out the phone numbers or email addresses of individuals who share unwelcome information about the war.
Putin’s antics have reached new levels of bizarre in recent days. Tens of thousands of people crammed into a stadium on Friday ostensibly to commemorate the eighth anniversary of its annexation of Crimea.
The event also served as a nationalistic rally, featuring slogans like “For a world without Nazism” and “For Russia,” as The Daily Beast reported this week.
“We haven’t had such unity in a long time,” Putin declared from the stage.
It appears that some—perhaps many—of the rally’s attendees had faced pressure to attend.
Will Vernon, as senior producer at BBC News in Moscow, wrote on Twitter that his team had spoken with dozens of people at the event. Some students revealed that they had been told they would receive a day off from class if they “attended ‘a concert,’” but not all of them knew the nature of the rally.
“In comparison to opposition rallies, most people didn't want to talk, be filmed or answer any questions,” Vernon wrote. “Some would cover their faces or put up their hoods when we said we are journalists. Many seemed embarrassed or ashamed to be there.”