Russia’s Ministry of Defense announced Valery Gerasimov would take over as chief of military operations in Ukraine. General Sergei Surovikin was replaced as commander of forces after three months in the post.
On Wednesday, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu appointed Gerasimov to head the “special military operation” in Ukraine, while Surovikin was demoted to an advisory role. The Russian state news agency TASS claimed the move would help coordinate the war effort. “The new appointments in the special military operation in Ukraine are related to the broader scope of tasks and the need of closer coordination between all military branches and services,” the outlet reported.
Meanwhile, the UK Defense Ministry called the move “significant” and claimed it would upset Russian hardliners. It “is a significant development in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s approach to managing the war.” Adding, “the move is likely to be greeted with extreme displeasure by much of the Russian ultra-nationalist and military blogger community, who have increasingly blamed Gerasimov for the poor execution of the war.”
Surovikin was appointed commander of forces in Ukraine in October. At the time of his ascension, Russian troops were losing ground to Kiev’s forces. After Surovikin’s takeover, the front lines largely stalled for months. Though, in recent days, Russian forces made some territorial gains. He previously served as commander of Russian forces in Syria.
For more than a decade, Gerasimov has been the Russian “Chief of General Staff” and the country’s highest-ranking military official.