On Saturday, the Russian army announced the appointment of a new commander for its “special military operation” in Ukraine after a series of bitter setbacks on the ground and signs of growing discontent among elites over the management of the conflict.
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Today, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that “General of the Army Sergei Surovkin has been appointed commander of the combined group of forces in the Special Military Operations region” in Ukraine. cable.
Surovkin, 55, is a veteran of the civil war in Tajikistan in the 1990s, the second war in Chechnya in the 2000s, and Russia’s intervention in Syria that began in 2015.
Until then, he had been leading the “southern” force grouping in Ukraine, according to a report from the Russian Ministry of Defense in July.
The name of his predecessor was never officially revealed, but according to Russian media he was General Alexander Dvornikov, who is also a veteran of the Second Chechen War and the commander of Russian forces in Syria from 2015 to 2016.
This decision, announced by Moscow, comes unusual, after a series of crushing defeats suffered by the Russian army in Ukraine.
Moscow’s forces were driven out of much of the northeastern Kharkiv region in early September due to a Ukrainian counterattack that allowed Kiev to regain thousands of square kilometers of territory.
Russian forces also lost 500 square kilometers of land in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine and miraculously escaped encirclement at Lyman, a logistics center now in Kyiv’s hands.
These setbacks sparked criticism within the Russian elite, with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov particularly critical of the military leadership, while a senior parliamentary official, Andrei Kartapolov, publicly called on the military to “stop lying” about its defeats.
The announcement comes on the day of the explosion that partially destroyed the Crimean Bridge, an essential supply infrastructure for the peninsula annexed by Moscow and Russian forces in Ukraine, dear to Vladimir Putin.