VLADIMIR Putin has suffered yet another setback as his spy chief has been killed in a Ukrainian missile strike.
Colonel Aleksey Katerinichev was blasted in a “pinpoint” strike today – just hours before the tyrant gave a speech officially declaring four regions in Ukraine as Russian.
Katerinichev, the deputy head of Russia’s occupying force in the Kherson region – one of the four areas being "annexed" by Putin – was hit by a US-made HIMARS missile, it is reported.
A source told Russian state-owned TASS news agency: “Two rockets hit the house in which he was."
Katerinichev was in the centre of Kherson city when he was hit.
His death is a major blow to the occupying forces and raises questions about Moscow’s control of areas it claims are now part of Russia.
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Katerinichev was a veteran of more than 20 counter-terrorist operations, and served also in the Russian border guards – part of the FSB – and the country’s emergency forces.
It comes amid reports Alexei Nagin, commander of the infamous terror squad Wagner Group, has been killed in Ukraine.
The 41-year-old was found dead near Bakhmut on September 20, according to reports.
International intelligence community InformNapalm posted on Telegram that Nagin had been killed in Ukraine after serving in military operations in Chechnya, Georgia, Syria and Libya.
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It is unclear how he died, but footage has been shared from his funeral on social media.
Last month, pro-Russia mercenaries in Ukraine were killed in a rocket strike after a photo gave away the position of their HQ.
Wagner Group hardmen were wiped out after a Putin propagandist posted a picture that included a street name.
Katerinichev's death came shortly before Putin declared four regions of Ukraine AS part of Russia in the biggest land grab since World War Two.
The tyrant is hosting a grand signing ceremony at the Kremlin today to welcome the four stolen regions of Ukraine to Russia as his seven-month war enters a terrifying new phase.
Putin has formally inked decrees declaring Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia to be Russian territory following a series of sham referendums.
The ruthless land grab was made official at the Georgievsky Hall of the Great Kremlin Palace in a signing ceremony – although Putin was late showing up to the huge gathering of his cronies.
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Putin said: "People have made their choice – and that choice is beyond any doubt."
The Russian leader vowed to "defend our land with all means".
He also held a minute silence for the "heroes of Russia" who have died in his disastrous invasion of Ukraine.
A stage with giant video screens has been put up on Moscow's Red Square for the farcical celebrations, with a pop concert set to take place.
The four regions annexed cover some 90,000sq km, or about 15 per cent of Ukraine – roughly the size of Hungary or Portugal.
Billboards across Moscow declared: "Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson – Russia!"
The outrageous move from Putin has ramped up fears he could launch a nuclear strike to protect his so-called Russian territory.
As fierce Ukrainian forces push his troops back in the northeast of the country, there are concerns the tyrant will now try to reframe the lightning counteroffensive as an attack on Russia sovereignty.
He warned Russia was prepared to use "all the means at our disposal" to counter potential threats to its territory.
The Kremlin said any attack on newly annexed parts of Ukraine will be considered an attack on Russia itself – adding his troops would fight to take the whole of the eastern Donbas region.
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And there are mounting concerns that Ukrainians living in Russian-controlled areas will be conscripted to fight in Putin's war.
Putin will meet leaders of the Russian-backed Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic as well as Russian-installed leaders of the parts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia that his forces occupy.
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