Putin appointed new commander for Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, at left, with Colonel General Alexander Dvornikov during an awards ceremony in the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia, in this pool photo taken on Thursday, March 17, 2016. (Alexey Nikolsky/Sputnik/Kremlin Pools/AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed a new general to direct the war in Ukraine as his military shift plans after the failure to take Kyiv, according to a US official and a European official.

Officials told CNN that General Alexander Dvornikov, commander of Russia’s Southern Military District, has been made theater commander of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.

“It speaks to a Russian acknowledgment that this is going very badly and they need to do something different,” the European official said.

A new theater commander with extensive combat experience could bring a level of coordination to an attack that is now expected to focus on the Donbass area rather than on multiple fronts.

Dvornikov, 60, was the first commander of Russia’s military operations in Syria when Putin sent troops to support the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in September 2015. Under Dvornikov’s command in Syria from September 2015 to June 2016, Russian aircraft supported the Assad regime and its allies as they laid siege to rebel-held eastern Aleppo, bombing densely populated areas and causing major civilian casualties. The city fell to Syrian government forces in December 2016.

The Russian military has used a similar heavy-handed approach in parts of Ukraine, attacking residential buildings in major cities and demolishing the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.

“We will see how effective it proves to be,” the European official said. “Russian doctrine, Russian strategy has largely remained since Afghanistan.”
“They do things in the same old fashioned way,” the officer said.

Military analysts and US officials familiar with intelligence assessments have speculated that Russian generals aim to present Putin with some concrete battlefield progress ahead of Victory Day on May 9, when Russia sees the defeat of Nazi Germany and the traditional officially marks the occasion with a parade in Moscow. red Square.

The European official described it as a “self-imposed deadline”, which could lead the Russians to make additional mistakes.

But it could potentially prompt the Russian military to commit more atrocities, as reportedly happened in the Kyiv suburb of Buka during the Russian occupation. “The stench of these war crimes will hang over these Russian armed forces for many years,” the official said.

Sir Roderick Lynn, Britain’s former ambassador to Russia, told Sky News on Saturday that Moscow has appointed a new general to try to gain at least some territory in Donetsk with a “very barbaric track record in Syria”. Putin can present that as a victory.”

Appointing a new overall commander for Russia’s war in Ukraine may be an attempt to forge a more cohesive strategy. CNN previously reported that Russia had no theater-wide commander for Ukraine’s operations, meaning units from various Russian military districts are operating without coordination and sometimes at cross objectives, two US defense officials said. According to.

The US has previously assessed that Putin would name a general whose forces are operating in the south of Ukraine because this is where the Russians took more territory, contrary to the Russian bid to encircle the cities of Kyiv and northern Ukraine. , an effort that recently ended with a comeback.

Ukraine’s General Staff said on Friday that Russian forces had completed their withdrawal from Ukraine’s northern Sumy region, while forces continued to build up in the country’s east.

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