Putin appointed general Surovikin to lead the Ukraine invasion after Moscow suffered a series of military setbacks

The Russian defense ministry announced on October 8 that General Sergei Surovikin has been appointed “commander of the Joint Grouping of Forces in the areas of the special military operation,” as the Kremlin uses to name the invasion of Ukraine. 

The decision was taken after Moscow’s forces were pushed back by Ukrainian armed forces in recent weeks in areas the Kremlin had declared Russian “forever.”

Until now Surovikin led the “South” forces in Ukraine, according to a defense ministry report in July. Before that he was Commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces.

The decision, unusually made public by Moscow, comes after a series of crushing defeats suffered by the Russian army in Ukraine. Russian forces were driven out of much of the northeastern Kharkiv region in early September by a Ukrainian counter-offensive that allowed Kyiv to retake thousands of square kilometres of territory. Russian troops also lost territory in the southern Kherson region as well as the Lyman transport hub in eastern Ukraine.

The setbacks led to growing criticism of the military leadership, including from the elite. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov called for the firing of a top general last week, while a senior lawmaker — Andrei Kartapolov — urged military officials to stop “lying” about the situation on the battlefield.

Who is Sergei Surovikin?

Sergei Surovikin is a general, whose career has suffered from accusations of corruption and brutality for over thirty years.

Surovikin was born on 11 October 1966 in Novosibirsk. In 1987 Surovikin graduated from the Omsk School of Arms Command “M.V. Frunze “, and later, with full marks, he continued and completed his studies at the Military Academy” M.V. Frunze “in Moscow in 1995 and later at the Military Academy of the Moscow Armed Forces General Staff in 2002. Since June 2004 he has commanded the 42nd Guard Division stationed in Chechnya.

From November 2008 to January 2010, Surovikin was Chief of the Directorate of Major Operations of the Armed Forces General Staff. From January to December 2010 Chief of Staff of the Volga-Urals Military District (based in Ekaterinburg); from December 2010 to April 2012 Chief of Staff of the Central Military District; in 2012 he led the Ministry of Defense working group to establish a military police with a further prospect of being appointed head of the Chief Military Police Directorate. From October 2012 to October 2013, he was appointed First Deputy Commander of the Eastern Military District, Chief of Staff (based in Khabarovsk) and in October 2013 commander of the same district.

Since March 2017, the last and prestigious assignment that may have convinced Putin to choose him, he has commanded the joint grouping stationed in Syria. Under his command action, Surovikin managed to make a significant step forward in the fight against the various jihadist militias to liberate a large part of the territory of Syria, including the cities of Deir ez-Zor, Mayadin and Abu Kamal, the last stronghold of the state. Islamic.

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