Russia has announced the death of its legendary sniper last week amid a rising death toll in its military forces. Sergeant Sergei Tsarkov's death was reported on May 18 although he was laid to rest on April 10 with a full military funeral. The 38-year-old Junior Sergeant is regarded as one of Russia’s deadliest snipers who regularly won in competitions such as the Sniper Frontier in the International Army Games tournament. The tournament is known to pit Russian forces and allied states that include contenders from Bangladesh, Venezuela, and Vietnam in a test of military skills.

According to the Business Insider,  a military commissariat told Russian media outlet Chita that Tsarkov died during a special operation in Ukraine. Tsarkov, who served in a rifle company of snipers, was buried among other war casualties in a vast cemetery at Borzya, some 4,400 miles east of the Ukrainian warzone. He was posthumously awarded the Order of Courage medal.  The Russian media showed images of the funeral rites for Tsarkov with one man weeping beside his casket that was draped with a Russian flag.

“He was the best sniper in the brigade. Everyone respected him very much, he was a professional and enjoyed authority. No one could believe that this could happen to him,” the commissariat old Chita.

Meanwhile, Russia lost another essential military arm when its 43rd Colonel, Colonel Denis Kozlov was among those who died last week in combat during an ambush by Ukrainian forces who intercepted Russian troops attempting to cross the Donets River. 

According to The Sun, their deaths were announced by Russian media last week citing how Kozlov was among two Russian battalions that were wiped out by Ukrainian forces after they were left trapped on the waterway. The bridge was blown up by Ukrainian ground troops leaving them vulnerable to the attack. Satellite imagery showed a Russian Z tank along with 52 military vehicles destroyed in the foiled attempt.

Some 1,000 troops are estimated to have lost their lives in the operation with second and third attempts reportedly botched. Satellite photos showed a demolished pontoon bridge and half a dozen military vehicles blown up in their desperate attempt to rescue stranded comrades trapped on the other side of the river.

The four-day operation to cross the Donets river is estimated to have cost the Russian army some 70 tanks and armored cars. Russian troops were forced to retreat from the capital city of Kyiv and Kharkiv. Despite reports of heavy loss, the Kremlin has not acknowledged the scale of troop lives it has lost in combat. On March 25, the Kremlin stated it had lost 1,351 Russian soldiers. Ukraine continues to accuse Russia of covering up real death toll numbers by refusing to retrieve the corpses of thousands of soldiers who were killed in battle.

TOPSHOT-RUSSIA-UKRAINE-CONFLICT People attend a farewell ceremony for Sergei Sokolov, the 21 year-old serviceman who was killed during Russian military action in Ukraine, in the settlement of Zubkovo in Novosibirsk region on March 24, 2022. Getty Images | ROSTISLAV NETISOV/AFP