Valery Gerasimov planned the Ukraine invasion alongside Vladimir Putin (Picture: Getty Images)
Vladimir Putin’s top military commander has reportedly been injured and evacuated from Ukraine.
Valery Gerasimov had been deployed on April 27 to oversee the Russian advancement in the Donbas region and in eastern Ukraine.
But the 66-year-old – who is leading Russia’s war campaign with defence minister Sergei Shoigu – appears to have already left the conflict zone.
Gerasimov was wounded during intense fighting in Izyum, in the Kharhiv region of Ukraine.
A Russian source claims the commander suffered ‘a shrapnel wound in the upper third of the right leg without a bone fracture’.
Three others in his group were killed during the fighting, it is believed.
Shrapnel was reportedly removed without any danger to Gerasimov’s life.
Vladimir Putin flanked by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on his left, and head of the general staff of the Armed Forces, Valery Gerasimov, on his right (Picture: AP)
A Ukrainian military vehicle drives to the front line near Izyum on April 23 (Picture: Reuters)
Russian news outlet Agentstvo reported Gerasimov was ‘flown out’ the conflict zone by a Mi-8 military helicopter.
Sources say he was taken to the Russian city of Belgorod, where he boarded a Defence Ministry Tu-154 plane – its destination unknown.
Founder of Independent Conflict Intelligence Team (ICIT) Ruslan Leviev claimed an eyewitness had seen Gerasimov board the plane ‘unaided.’
On Telegram, Mr Leviev posted: ‘The source confirms that it was Gerasimov who flew away.
‘But he went on board himself, alive and well.’
Vladimir Putin at a military exercise by Valery Gerasimov (left) in September (Picture: Getty Images)
The pair are said to be the ‘engineers’ of the conflict, alongside Sergei Shoigu (Picture: AFP)
Ukrainian government official Anton Gerashchenko confirmed Gerasimov had been injured and added a ‘large number’ of Russian senior officers had died.
Maj-Gen Andrei Simonov, 55, was killed during the same fighting in Izyum. He is the ninth Russian general to die during the conflict.
He was Russia’s most respected electronics warfare commander, serving with the 2nd Combined Arms Army.
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More than 30 Russian armoured vehicles were reportedly destroyed during the fierce fighting in Izyum.
Ukraine officials say an attack on a key command centre killed around 200 Russian troops.
Putin had sent Gerasimov to the front lines to ‘change the course’ of Russia’s underwhelming invasion, the Ukrainian official told the New York Times.
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