Conflicts & War

Russia replaces head of military forces fighting in Ukraine

Moscow, Jan 11 (EFE).- Russia on Wednesday appointed Valery Gerasimov, currently the chief of general staff, as the new commander of its military forces in Ukraine.

Gerasimov will take over from General Sergey Surovikin, a role he had occupied since Russia invaded its neighbor in February.

It was Surovikin who suggested that Russian forces retreat from the territories Russia had occupied in Ukraine’s Kherson region in November.

The retreat is seen as the worst setback that Russian troops have suffered since the war began.

Gerasimov’s appointment was ordered by defense minister Sergei Shoigu, who said that it was “related to the broader scope of missions tackled in its course and the need to organize closer coordination between military branches and services of the armed forces,” according to Russian state-run agency Tass.

Surovikin, who has combat experience in Syria, is already head of the Air Force and will now serve as deputy head of the joint grouping of troops fighting in Ukraine.

The other deputy chief of the Russian forces in Ukraine will be Oleg Saliukov, commander of the Land Army, and Alexey Kim, deputy chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces.

Since Russian forces captured the majority of Lysychansk in early July, the Russian army has suffered several setbacks, including the withdrawal from Kherson, including the regional capital, and part of the Kharkiv region.

Following the retreat, Shoigu announced an urgent reform of the army, including an increase in the number of men to 1.5 million, almost half of them professional military personnel.

Russian troops and units of the private military company Wagner are currently fighting in the streets of the city of Soledar in the eastern region of Donetsk.

The conquest of that stronghold would not only be the first major Russian victory in more than half a year but would pave the way for attacking Bakhmut, an important crossroads leading to the main Ukrainian strongholds in the Donbas. EFE


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