VLADIMIR Putin’s intelligence colonel has been killed in Ukraine in yet another blow to the tyrant’s disastrous invasion.
It comes amid fears the Russian leader could unleash a fresh attack to mark the one-year anniversary of the war after becoming frustrated at his troop’s lack of progress.
7Vladimir Putin’s intelligence colonel has been killed in UkraineCredit: East2West7Paratrooper Yuri Schneider (circled), who appeared behind Putin during his New Year address, has also been killedCredit: East2WestIn another setback for the dictator, Lt-Col Viktor Fursov has been killed in Ukraine.
The army intelligence officer, 37, died during a combat mission, although the circumstances of his death have not been disclosed.
Fursov, who trained in the Novosibirsk Higher Military Command School at the Faculty of Intelligence, was posthumously ordered the Russian Order of Courage.
Meanwhile, a Russian paratrooper honoured by Putin in his New Year address has also died in Ukraine.
Senior Lieutenant Yuri Schneider, 26, like Fursov, was among those to be killed amid record Russian losses in the war.
Schneider died after using his body as a shield to protect his comrades from a grenade, according to We Can Explain media, citing fellow Russian servicemen.
The paratrooper was visible as Putin addressed Russians at New Year with a bellicose anti-Western speech in front of troops serving in Ukraine.
He stood directly behind Putin’s right shoulder.
Normally, the Russian president uses the Kremlin as a backdrop for his annual midnight address broadcast across Russia’s 11 time zones as New Year approaches.
Schneider, from Krasnoyarsk, said in a TV interview later: “Immediately before the New Year, the Supreme Commander [Vladimir Putin] awarded me with the Order of Courage.
“To receive such an award from the Supreme Commander was a big joy in my life.
“I will remember this for the rest of my life.”
More than 800 of Putin’s troops are understood to be dying a day amid accusations Putin is using mobilised troops as cannon fodder in First World War-style tactics at the frontline.
Nato intelligence meanwhile suggests Russia is losing as many as 2,000 men for every 100 yards gained in Ukraine.
Just days ago, Putin’s elite marine force of 5,000 men were obliterated like “turkeys in a shooting range” during Ukraine’s bloodiest battle in Donetsk.
And in yet another blow to the tyrant, he lost a further general in Ukraine this month.
Major-General Dmitry Ulyanov, 44, had only recently returned to active service after retirement as a commander when he was killed.
Putin is desperate to achieve something after a bruising first year which has seen his forces thrown back and heavy losses.
Ukraine’s top spy chiefs have warned Russia is preparing for a “massive new attack” in days.
7Ukrainian defenders are bracing for an assault that could include 1,800 tanks, 3,950 armoured vehicles, 400 fighter jets and 300 helicopters incoming from Russia – as well as 500,000 soldiers.
Oleksiy Danilov, Ukraine’s Secretary of the National Security Council, believes Putin could unleash the new offensive on either February 23 or 24.
But he insisted the country is “ready” and will be able to “cope”.
Russia has warned it will “gain the world’s attention” on the one-year anniversary of the Ukraine invasion.
The country’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier this month Moscow plans to overshadow pro-Ukrainian events on the first year anniversary of the war on February 24.
Russia is believed to be plotting an attack across two new fronts – pushing into eastern and southern Ukraine.
Kyiv believe the attack may happen on or around February 24.
Defence minister Oleksii Reznikov believes Putin is gathering up to 500,00 soldiers for the new offensive.
He warned the Russians can carry out an offensive on two fronts, pushing into the south and into the east in the Donbas.
Putin’s initial assault last February saw his forces storm towards Kyiv before they were thrown by back the Ukrainians.
Ukraine then went on the counteroffensive, liberating huge swathes of the country from the disorganised Russians.
The conflict then slowed down over the winter.
And in recent weeks it has been reported that the Russians were beginning to make gains.
Putin likely will be seeking some sort of major triumph or new operation to mark the anniversary – with his future now tied to the success or failure of the war in Ukraine.
7He died using his body as a shield to protect his comrades from a grenadeCredit: East2West7Schneider, left, pictured with PutinCredit: East2West7Ukrainian forces fire a multiple rocket launcher at a front line near Bakhmut, DonetskCredit: EPA7It is feared Putin could launch a fresh attack to mark the first anniversary of the warCredit: AP
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk