Russian officials have confirmed that the deputy commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, Captain 1st Rank Andrei Paly, died in combat in Mariupol, APA reports citing BBC.
Earlier we reported that Ukraine claimed to have killed him. Heavy fighting continues in Mariupol, a port city battered by Russian shelling.
Paly's death was initially confirmed by the secretary of the Nakhimov naval college, Konstantin Tsarenko, on social network Vkontakte (VK).
Later, a Russian senator from Sevastopol - the Black Sea Fleet's base in Russian-annexed Crimea - said in a VK post that "Sevastopol has suffered a heavy, irreparable loss... Paly died in the battles for the liberation of Mariupol from the Nazis". President Vladimir Putin has spoken of Russia's campaign to rid Ukraine of "Nazis".
Sevastopol governor Mikhail Razvozhayev said in a Telegram post that "Andrei Nikolaevich chose to defend the Motherland as his life's work and died for our peaceful future".
Ukrainian sources have reported the deaths of five Russian generals in the fighting which erupted with Russia's invasion on 24 February. Russia has only officially confirmed one of these casualties - Gen Andrei Sukhovetsky.