Valery Gerasimov (r) was made head of Putin’s so-called special military operation in Ukraine despite disastrous past failures. Image: SPUTNIK via REUTERS  

DW: Power struggle in the Russian armed forces  

Sergey Surovikin has been removed as head of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine and replaced by Valery Gerasimov. Is there a power struggle raging in Moscow? 

General Sergey Surovikin was commander-in-chief of the “special military operation,” as Russia still officially calls its war of aggression against Ukraine, for just three months. On Thursday, Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu demoted him to deputy commander. He will now answer to Russia’s chief of the general staff, General Valery Gerasimov, who will take over the leadership of Russia’s military in Ukraine — nominally, at least. 

This is not the first restructuring of the Russian chain of command since the start of the invasion, but the timing is surprising, as Russia is making small military advances for the first time in months. Military experts are divided over the reasoning behind it. They say that Surovikin has not actually committed any blunders during his time as commander-in-chief in Ukraine. He is also said to be reasonably popular with the troops, and to be on good terms with political hard-liners. So why has he been replaced? 

Read more ….  

WNU Editor: I do not see a power struggle. What I see is a major escalation in this conflict where the priority for the Russian Ministry of Defense is to win it and to keep an eye on what NATO will do. 

And as for General Sergey Surovikin’s “demotion”. His specialty is air operations, and I am sure he has been told to focus his attention on intensifying Russia’s air operations against Ukraine in the coming weeks/months. 

Bottom line. 

I wish this was just a power struggle, but it is not. It is Russia preparing for the next phase of this war. Or as the above DW article accurately puts it …. 

 …. However, according to Oreshkin, Gerasimov’s appointment marks a new level of escalation in Russia’s war on Ukraine. Until now, only ordinary generals have led the so-called special military operation: “With this, Putin is acknowledging that it is no longer a ‘special operation’ being led by ordinary commanders, but a real war, involving the whole of Russia.”