Ukrainian media outlets and social media users have speculated that a top Russian commander has been captured as Kyiv’s counteroffensive against Moscow’s forces gathers pace.
Images and video shared on Twitter and Telegram purportedly show Lieutenant General Andrei Sychevoi among a group of Russian troops handcuffed on their knees with one social media user saying they were near Balakliya, in the Kharkiv region
Many noted the similarity of one of the captured men to other images of Sychevoi.
Nexta TV tweeted a screen grab of the alleged general next to a previous image of Sychevoi in his regalia.
“It seems that the Armed Forces of Ukraine captured not the usual ‘lieutenant colonel’, but the commander of the ‘West’ grouping, Colonel General Andrey Sychevoi,” it said.
The Lviv Journal tweeted a clip it said was of the Russian troops following their capture, with the message, “Time will tell if it’s Gen. Andrei Sychevoi that appears in the video.
“What I find intriguing is that 6 Ukrainian soldiers surround him & look at him as if he is the big fish, & the way he looks away from the camera [he surrendered after all]”, it added.
Military analyst Rob Lee tweeted “Russian Telegram channels are already [pointing] the finger at Lieutenant General Sychevoi who is the ‘West’ group commander responsible for this area.”
On the uniform of the man believed to be Sychevoi are the two stars worn by Russian lieutenant generals. Two stars are also on display on the shoulders of his ceremonial uniform he is wearing in images shared of him on social media.
“Striking similarity, isn’t it?” wrote Twitter user Nordic Arctic Fox Operative who also tweeted a combined image of the Russian captured with Sychevoi in his garb.
The capture has not been confirmed and Newsweek has contacted the Ukrainian armed forces and the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.
If verified, it would be a considerable coup for Ukraine although other social media users have disputed if it really is Sychevoi.
Open source intelligence analyst Oliver Alexander was among several who noted a difference in the hairline and a facial mole between the commander and the POW.
There also appears to be doubt over Sychevoi’s current role. When he was sanctioned by the European Union on February 28, he was commander of the 8th Guards Combined Arms Army of the Southern Military District.
But in June, the Conflict Intelligence Team [CIT] said that according to its sources, Sychevoi, who was an ex-commander of the 8th Army, had taken over the post in the Western Military District.
Analyst Lee said in a follow up tweet that he appeared to have been replaced “a month ago”, citing a Russian Telegram channel.
Rights group Charter 97 has dubbed Sychevoi, 53, who it said had held his current rank since 2019, “a war criminal of the highest rank” who “gives orders in the war against Ukraine.”
Update 9/9/22 6:00 a.m. ET: This article was updated to remove some superfluous words.
Update 9/9/22 5:40 a.m. ET: This article was updated to add additional comment and context.