Russia again reshuffled its military command in Ukraine as its forces struggled to make progress, replacing its top commander with a Kremlin insider who had helped to orchestrate the invasion.
Under Gen. Sergei Surovikin, who is being replaced, the Russian military largely switched to a defensive mode and began launching missile and drone attacks against Ukraine’s energy grid. Russian forces have struggled in the continuing offensive for Ukraine’s east. For weeks, the front lines have been largely static.
Analysts said that the replacement of Surovikin with Valery Gerasimov, a Kremlin apparatchik, showed that Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader, remained focused on projecting stability rather than on improving the military outlook. Some nationalist military bloggers compared the reshuffling to a game of musical chairs among Moscow’s ineffectual military old guard.
“They have taken someone who is competent and replaced him with someone who is incompetent, but who has been there a long time and who has shown that he is loyal,” a senior researcher at the RAND Corporation said.
Ukraine says it is still fighting for this town outside Bakhmut, a key city in the eastern region of Donbas, despite the Wagner Group’s claim that its mercenaries had taken the town.