Policy

Russia firing senior commanders over poor performance in Ukraine: UK intelligence

Russia has fired senior commanders in recent weeks whose performances have been deemed unsatisfactory in the country’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, according to an intelligence update from the United Kingdom’s defense ministry on Thursday.

A few notable officers have been suspended, the ministry said, including Lt. Gen. Serhiy Kisel, who commanded the 1st Guards Tank Army, and Vice Adm. Igor Osipov, who commanded Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Kisel was likely suspended for his failure to capture Kharkiv and Osipov for the sinking of the cruiser Moskva in April, UK intelligence reports.

Russian Chief of the General Staff Valeriy Gerasimov is thought to still be in his position, but British intelligence said officials cannot be certain.

In regards to these notable suspensions, the report pointed to a likely culture of cover-ups and scapegoating within the Russian military.

British intelligence surmised that officials involved in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “will likely be increasingly distracted by efforts to avoid personal culpability for Russia’s operational set-backs,” leading to a “strain on Russia’s centralised model of command and control.”

The report comes as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24, enters its third month.

Although Western intelligence initially predicted Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv would fall to Russia within days, the country has failed to accomplish a swift takeover, resulting in low morale and the loss of thousands of Russian soldiers.

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