Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu appointed Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov on Wednesday to oversee Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine in the latest shake-up of Moscow’s military leadership.
Shoigu appointed Gerasimov as commander of the combined forces group for Moscow’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, the defense ministry said in a statement.
Russia had promoted Sergey Surovikin, nicknamed “General Armageddon” by the Russian media for his reputed ruthlessness, to be its top battlefield commander only last October following a series of Ukrainian counter-offensives that turned the tide of the conflict.
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Surovikin will remain as a deputy of Gerasimov, the defense ministry said.
It said the changes were designed to increase the effectiveness of managing military operations in Ukraine, more than 10 months into the campaign.
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Gerasimov, like Shoigu, has faced sharp criticism from pro-war military bloggers for Russia’s multiple setbacks on the battlefield and failure to secure victory in a campaign the Kremlin had expected to take just a short time.
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Russian and Ukrainian forces were engaged in intense fighting on Wednesday over the town of Soledar in eastern Ukraine, a stepping stone in Moscow’s push to capture the entire Donbas region. The Russians appeared to have the upper hand.
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