Declare failure or rush to “victory”?.. Learn about the leadership of the new Russian armed forces in Ukraine | politics
MoscowThe new changes in the “backbone” of the leadership of the Russian armed forces operating in Ukraine raise many questions about their causes and objectives, and whether they would lead to a new breakthrough in the war that has been ongoing in Ukraine since February 24.
By a military decision of Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, Chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov was appointed commander of the Russian Armed Forces in the sphere of special military operations in Ukraine.
Also, deputies of the new commander were appointed: the commander of the Aerospace Forces and the former commander of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine, General Sergei Suvorukhin, the commander of the Ground Forces Oleg Salikov, and Alexey Kim, Deputy Chief of Staff.
The statement of the Russian Ministry of Defense emphasized that the reshuffle and upgrading of the command of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine “is associated with expanding the scope of the tasks assigned to it and improving the quality of all types of support and the effectiveness of the management of the group of armed forces.”
with low heat
It does not appear that these structural decisions were made automatically, but it is possible that everything was decided during Putin’s visit to the headquarters of the Unified Command Group of Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine on December 17, during which he was accompanied by the Defense Minister and chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, at which Sergei Surovikin presented testimonials.
According to Russian military observers, Surovikin fit perfectly into the country’s military and political leadership. According to her, under his leadership the line of defense in the Donbass was stabilized and the evacuation of troops from the right bank of the Dnieper to Kherson was carried out without losses of people and equipment.
Despite the surrender, which was then described as humiliating to Kobyansk, Izyum and Balaklia, local “successes” were made in Marinka, Artemovsk and Solidar under Surovkin’s leadership, as a result of high-level coordination between the armed forces (regular, Wagner and the armed forces of Donetsk and Luhansk), which Russian observers see was absent in the initial phase of the Russian military operation in Ukraine.
In high spirits
Taking a different approach, the new appointments could also be a result of Russia’s haste to end the first year of war with Ukraine, which began on February 24, with a “balanced” performance throughout the war, particularly after recent key field shifts in Solidarity and Bakhmut.
Russian forces’ control of the strategically important city of Solidar represented a morale boost for Moscow, which saw it as another important victory over Ukraine and the West in general, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said.
In this regard, one can understand Donetsk President Denis Pushilin’s implication that “field advances” in recent weeks are just the beginning and a sign that something new is preparing for an upcoming battle, which was hinted at by the way, by the Russian media by talking about the emergence of about 200 advanced T-90M tanks seen in some theaters of operation in Ukraine.
Some Russian military affairs experts do not hide that the recent changes in one of its dimensions reflect a process of revealing deficiencies in the performance of the Russian Armed Forces and encouraging work to correct errors, as military expert Alexei Leonkov says in his comment the statement by Defense Minister Shoigu, in which he spoke of the need to take “comprehensive measures for the qualitative renewal of the armed forces”.
In an interview with Al-Jazeera Net, Leonkov believes that it is no coincidence that the new changes bear traits of preparation for the next war. During hostilities, Ukraine employed new methods to which Russian armed forces must adapt and respond to the resulting challenges by changing tactics and using new weapons.
In this regard, he notes that the Office of Special Operations helped identify many deficiencies related to the mobilization, processing, delivery and manufacture of new weapons.
This means, according to Leonkov, that the replacement of Sorovikin by the Chief of the General Staff is not a sign of distrust in him, but rather an increase in the level of leadership of the Special Operations Office in preparation for an expansion of the range of tasks and closer organization interaction between branches of the armed forces, Improving the quality of all types of support and the effectiveness of command and control of group forces (land, air and air defense).
According to Leonkov, the new appointments most likely mean a transition from limited operations, such as forays into Solidar and Artemovsk, to large-scale strategic ones.
Does history repeat itself?
Regarding Gerasimov, he recalled the method and atmosphere of his appointment to the military history of the former Soviet Union, and some compared him to Georgy Zhukov, the commander of the Red Army during World War II, who also did not remain in the position of chief of the General Staff in Moscow, but was sent to the most difficult sectors at the front by Stalin during the war, when it was necessary for Moscow to achieve strategic goals, which at that time ended with the entry of Soviet troops into Berlin and the surrender of Germany.
For his part, researcher at the Russian Academy of Military Sciences Vladimir Prokhvatilov says that the Chief of Staff of the Army Gerasimov and his deputy Surovikin have a common idea of how to conduct military operations in Ukraine.
According to him, the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces (Putin) understood that it was necessary to strengthen leadership unity and reduce the approval bureaucracy. According to Prokhvatilov, from now on Gerasimov will lead all military operations, and even the defense minister will stand on the sidelines.
In his opinion, everything should have remained closed to the General Staff long ago, and “all the wild military strategists should have kept their mouths shut” so as not to interfere.
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