Some of Vladimir Putin’s top commanders have been “sacked” after failures in his invasion of Ukraine, British defense chiefs said on Thursday.
They believe a culture of “cover-ups and scapegoating” is now widespread within Russia’s military and security services, hampering Putin’s war.
In its latest intelligence update, the Defense Ministry in London said: “In recent weeks, Russia has sacked senior commanders who are seen as having performed poorly during the initial stages of its invasion of Ukraine.”
They named three high-ranking officers and stated:
- Lieutenant General Serhiy Kisel, who commanded the elite 1st Guards Tank Army, has been suspended for failing to capture Kharkiv.
- Vice Admiral Igor Osipov, who commanded Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, is also likely to have been suspended following the sinking of the cruiser Moskva (the flagship of the Russian navy) in April.
- General Valery Gerasimov, Russia’s highest-ranking military chief, is likely to remain in office, but it is unclear whether he retains President Putin’s trust.
It was recently reported that General Gerasimov, chief of the General Staff, was wounded after advancing into the war zone to try to inject new impetus into Russia’s military campaign in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, although this has not been confirmed.
After a series of setbacks for Putin’s forces, UK defense chiefs added in their intelligence update: “A culture of cover-ups and scapegoating is likely to prevail within the Russian military and security establishment.
“Many officials involved in the Ukraine invasion are likely to be increasingly distracted by efforts to avoid personal blame for Russia’s operational setbacks.
“This is likely to put further pressure on Russia’s centralized command and control model, as officers increasingly seek to defer key decisions to their superiors. It will be difficult for Russia to regain the initiative under these conditions.”
Britain and other Western nations have led a highly effective campaign to win the crucial information war to highlight the flaws in Putin’s invasion.
However, some of Putin’s war failures have been plain for the world to see, as his troops were forced to withdraw from around kyiv and parts of northern Ukraine while his blitzkrieg invasion plan, which included taking the capital in a matter of days, it failed. .
Ukrainian soldiers also recently reached the Russian border near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city in the country’s northeast, after pushing back Putin’s forces.
His military campaign is believed to be making slow progress in the Donbas region, which includes the Donetsk and Luhansk areas controlled by Moscow-backed separatists, where he has sent thousands more troops after withdrawing from around kyiv.
Battles come and go in the Donbas, with both sides gaining and losing ground, according to reports.
Ukraine’s general staff said in a statement Thursday that Russia’s attacks were focused on the Donetsk region of the Donbas.
Around Slovyansk, north of Donetsk, Russian forces “suffered significant losses” around the Velyka Komyshuvakha settlement, it said.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said Ukrainian saboteurs had blown up railway tracks ahead of an armored train carrying Russian troops in the occupied southern city of Melitopol.
“The partisans succeeded, although they did not blow up the armored train,” he said in a video posted on social media, contradicting an earlier statement by Ukraine’s territorial defense force that the train had been blown up.
Arestovych claimed that the incident showed that the partisan movement was actively disrupting Russian forces.
Ukrainian forces shelled a border village in Russia’s western Kursk region at dawn Thursday, killing at least one civilian, regional governor Roman Starovoit said.
The shells hit an alcohol factory in the town of Tyotkino and several other buildings, he wrote on the Telegram messaging app.