Russia’s Vladimir Putin has lost an elite Foreign Security Service commander in the Ukraine war, marking the 99th senior officer to die during the five-month conflict, according to a new report.
Lt. Colonel Nikolay Gorban, 36, was a commander in the FSB’s special forces, and he died “somewhere in Ukraine on August 2,” reported InformNapalm journalist Andrey Pavlushko.
The circumstances of Gorban’s death have not been revealed.
He is believed to be the most senior operative from the FSB — once headed by Putin — to be killed during the invasion of Ukraine.
An official citation mourning his loss said Gorban “participated in the conduct of combat activities and special operations both in Russia and abroad.
“In the course of carrying out combat missions, he proved himself to be a courageous and decisive officer. He was proud of his service in the Russian FSB.”
The citation also stated that Gorban, the son of a soldier, previously fought in Syria and was awarded two Medals of Courage. He is survived by a wife and three sons.
In another blow to the Kremlin, Colonel Vasily Kleshchenko, an army aviation commander, was also listed as killed.
Kleshchenko was deputy head of the 344th combat use and retraining center for elite helicopter pilots and snipers.
The latest deaths show how President Putin’s war is hemorrhaging commanders in his armed forces and security services.
Last week, Russian forces lost Olga “Korsa” Kachura, 52, the first female colonel to die in the Ukraine war.
She was a colonel in the forces of the Russia-backed Donetsk People’s Republic in Ukraine, where she commanded a rocket artillery division.
Putin posthumously awarded her the Hero of Russia honor “for courage and heroism shown in the performance of military duty.”
Russia has also seen at least 10 of its generals slain in the war, although the Kremlin so far has confirmed the deaths of only four.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, British defense intelligence reported that because of Russian forces’ “poor performance” in Ukraine, the Kremlin “highly likely” has dismissed at least six commanders since the start of the hostilities on Feb. 24.
UK’s Ministry of Defense stated in its latest bulletin that General-Colonel Aleksandr Chayko was booted from his post as commander of the Eastern Military District in May.
General-Colonel Aleksandr Zhuravlev, who has commanded the Western Military District since 2018, was absent from Russia’s Navy Day in St. Petersburg on July 31 and was likely to be replaced by General-Lieutenant Vladimir Kochetkov.
British intelligence also said that General Aleksandr Dvornikov, who had the overall command of the operation in Ukraine, has been subsequently removed, and General Sergei Surovikin has assumed command of the Southern Grouping of Forces from General Gennady Zhidko.
“The cumulative effect on consistency of command is likely to contribute to Russia tactical and operational difficulties,” the Ministry of Defense concluded.