Russia changes senior military commanders – again

24 January, 03:25 AM
Lieutenant General Yevgeny Nikiforov has been appointed head of Russia's Western Military District after his predecessor had held the post for a month (Photo:DIU of the Ministry of Defense)

Lieutenant General Yevgeny Nikiforov has been appointed head of Russia's Western Military District after his predecessor had held the post for a month (Photo:DIU of the Ministry of Defense)

Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu has changed the commanders of Russia’s Western and Southern military districts, Russian news outlet RBC reported on Jan. 23.

According to the report, Col. Gen. Sergei Kuzovlev is now the head of the Southern military district, and the Western military district – previously helmed by Kuzovlev – is now led by Lt. Gen. Yevgeniy Nikiforov.

Nikiforov’s planned appointment was first announced by Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence, in late December 2022. Prior to that, he had served as chief of staff – first deputy commander of the troops of the Eastern Military District.

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Its previous commander, Kuzovlev, had been in his post for about a month. The reason for the dismissal was formally named as the failure of preparations for the offensive on Lyman, Donetsk Oblast. According to Ukrainian intelligence, the reshuffle was in fact a manifestation of the internal political struggle at the top of the Russian leadership: a man from the Shoigu-Gerasimov (head of Russia’s General Staff) circle was replaced with a candidate from the Surovikin-Prigozhin group.

On Jan. 11, Russian Defense Ministry appointed Russian Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov to command Moscow’s invasion force in Ukraine, replacing Sergei Surovikin. According to Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder, another change of commander and Gerasimov's appointment indicate systemic problems in the Russian army.

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