Russia's Defense Ministry said two senior commanders had been killed near Bakhmut, eastern Ukraine.
It claimed Putin's forces were repelling Ukrainian attacks but admitted to losing the top officers.
Ukraine has reportedly advanced in Bakhmut in recent days. The Wagner chief called it a Russian "rout."
Two Russian commanders have been killed in fighting near Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, the Russian Ministry of Defense said on Sunday.
The ministry said the commanders died while repelling Ukrainian attempts to break through the frontline.
The commander of the 4th motorized rifle brigade, Colonel Vyacheslav Makarov, was wounded in the fighting and died while being evacuated from the battlefield, the ministry said.
Meanwhile, the deputy commander of the army corps for military-political work, Colonel Yevgeny Brovko, died of multiple shrapnel wounds sustained during a battle, it said.
The department claimed that Ukrainian forces had not succeeded in breaking through Russian defenses and that hundreds of Ukrainian troops had been killed.
Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Friday that Ukraine had launched an attack north of Bakhmut with more than 1,000 troops and up to 40 tanks, which would be the biggest Ukrainian offensive since November if confirmed, per Reuters.
The founder of the paramilitary Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who often criticizes the Russian military and blames them for not supporting his fighters in Bakhmut, described the retreat as "a rout' and not a regrouping."
He added that Ukraine had taken high ground overlooking Bakhmut and freed up the Chasiv Yar-Bakhmut road, a vital supply line.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Sunday that his forces are preparing to launch a counteroffensive to free territories occupied by Russia.
It is unclear whether the advances in Bakhmut are part of the much-anticipated counteroffensive.
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