Russian General Sergei Surovikin, known as General Armageddon, tasked with handling the Ukraine invasion has been demoted merely after three months as criticism mounted over his strategy of targetting the Ukrainian power grid, being deemed a failure. He is known as General Armageddon for his destruction of Aleppo in 2016.
According to a report by The Telegraph, Gen Surovikin has been replaced as commander of Russian forces in Ukraine by Gen Valery Gerasimov, the head of the Russian army. Gen Surovikin will serve as Gen Gerasimov’s deputy, it further mentioned.As per The Telegraph, the decision could deepen the differences between the Kremlin and a powerful wing of Russian nationalists who blame Gen Gerasimov for the failure to capture Kyiv.
Vladimir Putin could be attempting to increase “manual control” over the management of the war and also deflect criticism by pro-war ultra-nationalists inside and outside the Kremlin, the report cited analysts as saying.The appointment was being seen as a direct rebuke to Yevgeny Prigohzin, head of the Russian paramilitary organisation Wagner group, an ally of Gen Surovikin.
Earlier, Prigohzin claimed that his fighters achieved “control of the entire territory” of the town of Soledar in Ukraine. In a rare instance, his claims were denied by the Kremlin and the Wagner group was urged caution on making official announcements.
“I want to confirm the complete liberation and cleansing of the territory of Soledar from units of the Ukrainian army… Ukrainian units that did not want to surrender were destroyed,” Prigohzin, spearheading the battle for Soledar and Bakhmut, said, as quoted by The Telegraph.
He had claimed that 500 Ukrainian troops had been killed while asserting that the regular army had no role in the victory, “I would like to underline once again that no units other than Wagner fighters took part in the assault on Soledar.” However, the Russian ministry of defence denied the claim that battle was over and said its paratroopers were to be credited for recent progress.
“Airborne units have blockaded Soledar from the north and south. The Russian air force strikes enemy strong points. Assault detachments are fighting in the town,” it said in a statement that made no mention of the Wagner group, as per the report.
Soledar had a population of about 11,000 before the Russian invasion. It is situated a few miles north-east of Bakhmut, a key frontline town that Russia has been unsuccessfully attacking since August.If Russia manages to take control of Bakhmut, it would pave the way for an attack on Kramatorsk and Slavyansk towns as well as the capture of the rest of the Donetsk region, one of Russia’s declared goals in its invasion.