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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Wednesday appointed Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov to oversee Russia’s military operation in Ukraine in the latest shake-up of Moscow’s military leadership.
The Defense Ministry said in a statement that Shoigu appointed Gerasimov as commander of Moscow’s joint forces group for “special military operations” in Ukraine.
Russia promoted Sergei Surovikin, nicknamed “General Armageddon” by Russian media for his reputation for ruthlessness, as its top battlefield commander last October after a series of Ukrainian counter-offensives turned the tide of the conflict.
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The Defense Ministry said that Surovikin would remain as Gerasimov’s deputy.
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It added that the changes were designed to increase the effectiveness of the management of military operations in Ukraine with the campaign more than 10 months away.
Gerasimov, like Shoigu, faced fierce criticism from pro-war military bloggers for Russia’s multiple setbacks on the battlefield and its failure to win a campaign the Kremlin had briefly hoped for.
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Russian and Ukrainian forces were engaged in intense fighting on Wednesday over the town of Soledar in eastern Ukraine, part of Moscow’s move to capture the entire Donbas region. It seems that the Russians have the upper hand.