VLADIMIR Putin has lost his first female colonel in Ukraine.
The Russian leader granted posthumous Hero of Russia honour – the Kremlin’s highest award – to Olga “Kursa” Kachura, 52, who was killed in a rocket attack on her car.
She is the 97th known colonel to have been killed in Putin’s war in Ukraine.
She was a colonel in the forces of the Russian puppet state Donetsk People’s Republic, where she commanded a rocket artillery division deployed against Ukraine.
The Russian President said he had awarded her “for courage and heroism shown in the performance of military duty”.
According to local reports, she was killed instantly when a Ukrainian strike hit her car.
The news of her death was confirmed by Putin ally Margarita Simonyan who posted: “Legendary Korsa died in Horlivka… May she rest in peace…”
Simonyan – head of the sanctioned RT network – added: “The Chief [Putin] awarded Korsa the title of Hero of Russia.
“That’s how it’s supposed to be. These are our common heroes.”
Earlier today the Drama Theatre in Donetsk, where the funeral was being held, was hit by more Ukrainian strikes, reportedly causing several casualties.
Due to the damage caused, the ceremony was postponed.
Simonyan claimed that a hotel where the RT film crew were based had been hit.
“By some miracle, no one was seriously injured,” she said.
Kachura was a career police investigator rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel before switching to the forces of Putin-backed separatists.
She served in the 3rd separate motorised rifle brigade Berkut of the 1st Army Corps of the DPR and commanded a Grad MLRS division in Horlivka.
There were 140 gunners under her command.
The mum-of-two had been wounded several times in previous attacks.
She had held the rank of colonel in the DPR forces since 2015.
Last year Ukraine sentenced her to 12 years in prison with confiscation of property for “participation in a terrorist group or terrorist organisation”.
She was head of the powerlifting federation of Horlivka, and an honorary citizen of the city, which was twinned with Barnsley in England.
Mayor of Horlivka Ivan Prikhodko said: “A brave and wise woman who was there from the start of the People’s Militia of the DPR has tragically died.”
She had also been awarded the Hero of DPR award.
Meanwhile, Putin has also lost two more colonels in his Russian forces, the latest proof of the devastating toll his high ranks have suffered.
Paratrooper Lt Colonel Ivan Pozdeev served in the Kutuzov Airborne Assault brigade in Ulyanovsk.
Acting Head of Komi Republic Vladimir Uyba said he “died as a hero during the special war operation in Ukraine”.
It also came to light that Lt Col Denis Sorokin, a married father of two, died near Melitopol earlier in the war.
He was commander of an assault battalion, and also awarded the Hero of Russia posthumously.