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Russian President Vladimir Putin has fired senior commanders who he considered to have performed poorly during the opening stages of its invasion of Ukraine, the MoD reported on Thursday, May 18.
Intel has suggested that Lieutenant General Serhiy Kisel, who commanded the elite 1st Guards Tank Army, was suspended for his failure to capture Kharkiv – which recently saw desperate Russian troops “destroying bridges” in order to try to “complicate the counteroffensive of Ukrainian troops”.
The MoD also said that Vice Admiral Igor Osipov, who commanded Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, has also “likely been suspended” following the sinking of the cruiser Moskva in April.
The loss of the Moskva (Moscow) was considered a huge dent in Russian offensives in Ukraine.
The Moskva was sunk by two Ukrainian missiles in the Black Sea, off the coast of Ukraine on Wednesday, April 13.
The sinking of the Moskva was noted as “a significant loss,” by US officials, who said at the time, “It’s going to be a blow to their pride, and we would expect it will be a blow to their morale.”
The British Ministry of Defence said that Russian Chief of the General Staff Valeriy Gerasimov likely remains in post, but it is unclear whether he “retains the confidence of President Putin.”
The report continued: “A culture of cover-ups and scape-goating is probably prevalent within the Russian military and security system.
“Many officials involved in the invasion of Ukraine will likely be increasingly distracted by efforts to avoid personal culpability for Russia’s operational set-backs.
“This will likely place further strain on Russia’s centralised model of command and control, as officers increasingly seek to defer key decisions to their superiors. It will be difficult for Russia to regain the initiative under these conditions.”
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky recently suggested that recent failures by Russian forces failures in the east and south of Ukraine resulted in the “missile shelling of the Lviv region, Sumy region, Chernihiv region and the recent airstrikes in the Luhansk region.”
“The 83rd day of our defence began with a rather powerful combination of Russian strikes at Ukraine,” he said on Tuesday, May 17.
“Specific sabotage activity in the border areas of Ukraine, and the missile attacks, are not just creating tension for our state, not just testing our strength. This is a kind of attempt of the Russian army to compensate for a series of failures in the east and south of our country.”
He added: “They cannot demonstrate success with general military action in the areas where they are trying to advance. So they are trying to show success through their missiles and other activities. To no avail as well.
“These strikes, like many previous ones, do not change anything radically. Especially since our air defence and anti-sabotage measures are becoming stronger.”
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