(Reuters) – Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has appointed Russian Army Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov as commander of the “special military operation” in Ukraine launched last February by Moscow , in what constitutes a new reorganization within the command of the Russian troops.
This announcement, made by the Russian Ministry of Defense in a press release, comes against a backdrop of criticism of Valery Gerasimov from conservative Russian commentators, who blame him, as well as Sergei Shoigu, for the setbacks suffered by the army on the front lines and Russia’s inability to win a campaign that the Kremlin imagined would be quick.
Valery Gerasimov succeeds Sergei Surovikin, dubbed “General Armageddon” by the Russian press for his ruthlessness, who was appointed last October to oversee the offensive in Ukraine following counter-offensives by Ukrainian troops that reversed the trend in the field.
It is specified in the press release that Sergei Surovikin will now be Valery Gerasimov’s deputy.
These changes are intended to enhance the efficiency of operations in Ukraine “in connection with the increased scale of the task”, the ministry said, citing the need to “organize closer contacts between the various branches of the military and to improve (…) the efficiency of the management of Russian troops”.
(Report by Reuters editorial staff; French version Jean Terzian)