Russia appoints Gerasimov to oversee Ukraine operation
Russia has announced a reshuffle in its military leadership, appointing its chief of staff as the head of its operation in Ukraine.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu appointed on Wednesday the Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov to oversee Moscow's military operation in Ukraine, marking the federation's latest shuffle in the military leadership.
Gerasimov has been under fire for the better part of a year due to the various setbacks Moscow has faced since February when it was expected that Russia would get through the campaign with minimal losses and in a short time, which were, to begin with, unrealistic expectations.
Gerasimov was appointed as commander of the combined forces group for Russia's operation in Ukraine, the Defense Ministry said, giving the Chief of Staff the highest position among Russia's battlefield generals.
His predecessor, Sergey Surovikin, was only appointed to his post in October. Surovikin, also known as "General Armageddon" in Rusisa due to his renowned ruthlessness, was put in charge of the campaign after various counteroffensives that Kiev carried out, which saw Ukraine gain major ground.
Surovikin had served as Commander of the Forces of the South group operating in Ukraine. Before that, he served from March until October 2017, and from January until April 2019, as the Commander of Russia’s Eastern Military District and led Russian troops in Syria. He was also one of the leaders of the anti-terror operation in the second Chechen war from 1999 to 2009.
Gerasimov's promotion will mean that his predecessor will become his deputy, the defense ministry revealed.
Moscow underlined that the reshuffle was aimed at increasing the effectiveness of the military operation.
"The increase in the level of leadership of the special military operation is connected with the expansion in the scale of tasks ... the need to organize closer contact between different branches of the armed forces and improve the quality ... and effectiveness of the management of Russian forces," the ministry's statement read.
Surovikin's tenure saw Russia making some strides, the latest of which was beating the Kiev regime's forces in the strategic town of Soledar in the Donetsk People's Republic.
A senior US Defense Department official revealed Monday that his country assessed that a good chunk of the town of Soledar was under the control of the Russian armed forces.
"We do think that there is a good portion of Soledar that the Russians have in their hands and the Ukrainians do as well. And these [artillery] exchanges are savage," the official told a press briefing.
The official noted that Bakhmut, which is located seven kilometers away from Soledar, has also become a field of "severe and savage" fighting, with the two sides shelling it with thousands of artillery rounds.
Both key towns are located in the Kiev-controlled part of the DPR, which became part of the Russian Federation in September following popular referenda in the region, alongside other neighboring regions.
Additionally, Russia, during Surovikin's tenure, made advances when it comes to the key city of Bakhmut.
The situation in Bakhmut
Russian forces proceed to advance toward the densely populated areas of the city after they succeeded more than a month ago in tightening their siege on the Ukrainian forces present there, and they continue to bombard their positions with missiles and artillery.
Western media have been speaking about the Battle of Bakhmut for over a month now, in which Kiev's allies fear that Russian control over it will be a key to the collapse of the entire front in the hands of the Russian forces during the harsh winter, while Russian sources confirm that the Ukrainian forces and mercenaries suffer heavy losses in lives and equipment.
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The Ukrainian forces suffer greatly from the difficulty of transferring personnel to the city, due to the harsh weather conditions on the one hand, and also because they were forced to withdraw reinforcements from the Zaporozhye and Svatove fronts, to reinforce the combat group in Bakhmut.
With this last option, Ukraine's forces would weaken their positions in other cities and be forced to sacrifice their capabilities in those directions and throw all their reserve forces in an attempt to block the Russian advance.