Kommersant reports that a couple of Russian officers (one LtC, one major) were sentence to 4 years in prison in Russia for failing to stop a Tochka-U strike on a Russian base in March or April 2022 (Kommersant says April, but another source says March.) Although the piece is moderately long, it doesn't seem to explain exactly what were the two in charge of. Was it air defense, or the struck base itself, like not having taken dispersal measures etc.?

And are there any similar cases ongoing in Russia? Give that Ukraine has managed a few more strikes since then inside Russia, I'm guess more officers might be indicted, but since the pieces say little about the concrete circumstance of the case, maybe that was an exceptional one?

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    Since the case was tried in a private hearing, we will not know the details directly, unless somebody blows a whistle.
    – alamar
    Commented Dec 6, 2023 at 21:53
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    @alamar: I see. Still, their assignments (like which units they commanded/belonged-to) might not have been secret. Commented Dec 6, 2023 at 22:03
  • Most articles i have seen refer to a failure of 'air defense', so although i have not quite joined up the dots, thats the current focus. Most commentators are pretty sure they are just scapegoats though. Kommersant commentators note this investigation was the first, but not the last - each arrival from Ukraine, criminal cases of terrorism are opened (Article 205 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), which then become episodes in large-scale investigation by the Main Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of Russia, which has been on-going since 2014. Commented Dec 6, 2023 at 22:15

1 Answer 1


Was it air defense, or the struck base itself, like not having taken dispersal measures etc.?

Since it was a classified military trial, information is limited. However most news sources seemed to suggest they were in charge of "air defence".

This news report says:

The prosecutor's office considered that the enemy's "surprise attack" became possible due to insufficient air defense coverage of the airspace in the border zone.

This report also suggests the same:

According to the investigation cited by Kommersant, in the spring of 2022, the officer did not organize sufficient cover with air defense systems, and as a result of a strike by the Ukrainian army on the Belgorod region, seven soldiers were killed.

This news source suggests there was deficiency of both defence and offence by the officers:

Their alleged incapacity to prevent the shelling of a part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, including an ammunition depot in the Belgorod region, led to the death of seven servicemen and the destruction of 15 pieces of military equipment.

... Subsequently, as part of the investigation, the commander of the unit, Lieutenant Colonel Bondarev, was also included in the list of defendants, who, it seems, failed to provide adequate protection for his unit, including protection from rocket and artillery attacks.

And are there any similar cases ongoing in Russia?

This news report says this was the first trial of this kind, under this law:

The First of its Kind
This conviction marks the first time Russian officers have been sentenced under Article 340 of the Russian Criminal Code for failing to repel a surprise attack ...

Precedent Set; More to Follow?
While this is the first conviction of its kind, it may not be the last. According to Russian news outlet Kommersant, every missile or drone from Ukraine that goes unchallenged initiates a terrorism case. If they are not intercepted, a negligence case is opened against the responsible officers. The sentencing of Bondarev and Dmitrakov could be the beginning of a series of similar convictions.

... The officers were held responsible for failing to prevent the strike, a charge that has now been legally upheld. Their conviction serves as a stark reminder of the human cost of war and the responsibilities placed on those tasked with preventing such incidents.

Though the charges of "terrorism" sounds like an overkill to me, apparently it's not unique to the Russian military. The US military also has similar equivalent laws - Dereliction of duty - that even prescribes the death sentence during wartime:

Punishment can include sanctions up to and including the death penalty (in times of war). Outside of wartime, the maximum punishment allowed is a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 1 year (10 years for service members receiving special pay under 37 USC 310).

(Most news sources seem to be citing the Kommersant report that you have also referred to in your question. I didn't find any western news sources reporting on this incident, yet.)

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    There were probably several Kommersant articles on this. The middle quote you gave is from a piece from April, well before the article I've linked to. I guess Kommersant didn't feel like repeating any details in their latest piece because of their earlier coverage. Commented Dec 6, 2023 at 23:59

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