Russia has replaced its military chief in Ukraine with a Kremlin insider, dashing calls from Moscow ultranationalists for a radical overhaul of the leadership overseeing the flagging invasion.
Gen. Valery Gerasimov, who had served as Russia’s chief of general staff for more than a decade, replaces Gen. Sergei Surovikin as the head of the Russian military in Ukraine, the Defense Ministry said in a statement Wednesday. Surovikin is now one of Gerasimov’s three deputies, according to the statement.
Gerasimov was among the architects of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and has remained in his post despite the mounting military disasters.
Surovikin was only put in charge of the Russian forces in Ukraine in October, ending months of disjointed military structure that analysts said contributed to Russia’s disastrous battlefield performance. His appointment came after the Ukrainians mounted a successful counteroffensive that drove the Russians out of much of the Kharkiv region.
Surovikin was able to conduct an orderly retreat from the southern city of Kherson, the only Ukrainian provincial capital captured by Russian forces in nearly a year since the invasion. But he had struggled to make significant progress in the grinding offensive in the east of the country.