A deputy commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet was killed in combat in the besieged port city of Mariupol during what Moscow calls its military operation in Ukraine, officials said Sunday.
“Captain 1st Rank Andrei Nikolayevich Paly was killed in the fighting to liberate Mariupol from Ukrainian Nazis,” the governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev said on Telegram.
Sevastopol is a port city in Crimea — annexed by Moscow from Ukraine in 2014 — and the base of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.
Paly was an “open and decent person” and “enjoyed great authority in the fleet,” Razvozhayev added.
Yekaterina Altabaeva, Sevastopol’s lawmaker in the Russian upper parliamentary house, also confirmed the death.
“Sevastopol has suffered a heavy, irreparable loss,” Altabaeva said on Telegram, adding that Paly had died during “battles for the liberation of Mariupol from Nazis.”
There was no immediate confirmation from Russia’s defense ministry.
Russia, which has been conducting a military operation in Ukraine since February 24, has insisted that its neighbor never join NATO, and has also called for its “demilitarization” and “denazification.”