Home | Articles | What is behind the reshuffle in the leadership of the russian army

What is behind the reshuffle in the leadership of the russian army

What is behind the reshuffle in the leadership of the russian army

According to the russian propaganda resource RIA Novosti, citing an informed source, general surovikin was dismissed from the post of commander-in-chief of the russian aerospace forces (VKS) by a secret presidential decree. colonel-general v.afzalov, chief of the VKS general staff, was appointed as the interim acting commander-in-chief. 

The news was not a sensation, as the results of the investigation into the “prigozhin mutiny” have not been available to the public for almost two months.

What does the reshuffle in the russian army mean?

It is no big secret that large groups of influence from the highest political circles in russia have been engaged in a long and fierce struggle for power in the kremlin (groups of supporters of prigozhin, shoigu’s military, patrushev’s security forces and the director of the russian guard, vladimir zolotov, etc.) Although the results of the “special operation” threaten putin’s rating, shoigu’s group is currently winning because the kremlin leader is convinced of his loyalty. This is what allows shoigu to manipulate putin and eliminate his opponents. Therefore, surovikin’s public criticism of corruption and unprofessionalism in the russian armed forces command led to his fierce conflict with shoigu.

By using the failure of the prigozhin march (one of the demands of which was the resignation of the minister of defence and chief of the general staff) as a pretext, shoigu was able to present surovikin’s moral support for the rebellion to putin as a manifestation of disloyalty to him personally. Thus, the failure of the “march” led to reprisals against the military who supported it, and surovikin was included in the list of those reprisals. His future fate depends on shoigu’s decision – according to media reports, surovikin is at the disposal of the ministry of defence. Most likely, he will be assigned to some humiliating position, followed by retirement “for health reasons”. However, no one was completely successful in the putin-shoigu-prigozhin conflict. In order to avoid strengthening the shoigu-gerasimov group in the army, putin did not dare to deal with prigozhin and, despite the demands of the offended shoigu, sent him to Belarus. For the russian military, this was proof that the shoigu-gerasimov group had no political future.

What will the army reshuffle change in the situation at the front? 

Firstly, the removal of a career general with experience in leading “hot spots” from the command of the occupation forces in Ukraine will significantly weaken the effectiveness of the “special operation”. In addition, along with the general, at least 13 high-ranking military officers were detained by russian special services after the mutiny, and 15 officers were suspended or dismissed. Therefore, incompetence and corruption in the army will gain new momentum, which will finally discredit shoigu, gerasimov and putin personally.

Secondly, even the removal of surovikin will not ensure that shoigu remains politically afloat for long – he has other enemies who are persistently seeking putin’s resignation. These are high-ranking security officials (patrushev, bortnikov, zolotov) who are trying to replace the military generals with “their” people, and to do so, they are preparing the information basis for accusing the shoigu-gerasimov clan of the failure of the “special operation”. The escalation of inter-clan struggle in putin’s environment also creates additional chaos in the management of the troops, demoralises the military and increases social tensions in society.

Thirdly, all indications are that with the removal of surovikin, the “showdown” in military circles will only intensify. The russian army has formed a group of so-called combat generals who want shoigu to resign. These include the commander of the airborne troops, m.teplynsky, and the former commander of the 58th army, i.popov. There are also people in the leadership of the defence ministry who are completely disloyal to shoigu: t.shevtsova (serdyukov’s ally), a.kuzmenkov (v. zolotov’s ally), a. matovnikov (v. zolotov’s ally). In addition, the position of the dismissed surovikin remains uncertain, as v.afzalov, who was appointed in his place, had been the chief of the general staff of the VKS since 2018 and was directly subordinate to surovikin. At the same time, from July 2023, afzalov personally reported on the success of the VKS to the chief of the general staff, v.gerasimov, without surovikin’s participation. That is, the actual balance of power in the russian armed forces will be known later.

It is clear that putin has less and less confidence in shoigu and, although he does not dare to dismiss his “old friend”, he keeps him under control and does not restrain other groups of influence. Therefore, it is argued that the chief of the general staff, v.gerasimov, is in fact already a man of putin, who promotes him as a counterweight to shoigu’s political ambitions. The inspection of the headquarters of the so-called “smo” in rostov-na-donu on the night of 19th of August, when the russian dictator met with gerasimov, can be seen as a public gesture of reorientation of his sympathies from shoigu to gerasimov.

❗️Unjustified personnel decisions indicate an intensification of the internal political struggle between the kremlin towers and a weakening of coordination of the russian army’s actions in Ukraine.

  • 23 August, 2023

Comments are closed.

Pin It on Pinterest