Russia: Putin facing ‘internal division’ in the military says expert
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Vladimir Putin recently announced a dramatic reshuffle of its military commanders leading the war in Ukraine. Oleksii Reznikov, the defence minister of Ukraine, told the BBC that there was a power struggle inside the Kremlin. He revealed that the major reason behind the reshuffle was the now-demoted commander had wasted Russia’s missile stocks to the extent to which the country is now “running out of missiles”.
On Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry announced another reshuffle as criticism mounts over its handling of the stalled campaign.
The ministry said that General Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian General Staff, would become the overall commander of the campaign, while the current commander, Sergey Surovikin, will become one of his three deputies.
The effective demotion for General Surovikin comes after just three months in the job as the overall commander.
While the reshuffle came as a surprise to many analysts, Mr Reznikov revealed the real reason behind the move.
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He told the BBC that the change was a result of a power struggle inside the Kremlin, as the Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin continues to undermine President Putin’s armed forces.
Mr Reznikov pointed to the “conflict between Mr Prigozhin and the armed forces of the Russian Federation”.
He added that General Surovikin’s strategy of devastating attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure had “reduced the Russian missile stocks without any results”.
This wasteful strategy had humiliated and infuriated President Putin, according to Mr Reznikov, who declared that Russia “is running out of missiles”.
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While many saw the move as a promotion for General Gerasmiov, Mark Galeotti, senior associate fellow with the Royal United Services Institute, said “it is a kind of demotion for Gerasimov or at least the most poisoned of chalices”.
He added: “It’s now on him, and I suspect Putin has unrealistic expectations again.”
During his interview, Mr Reznikov also dismissed fears of a Russian invasion from Belarus in the spring.
He said that the invasion “would take a lot of time and Russia have no resources”.
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The defence minister also claimed that the Russian occupiers are losing “about 500-600” soldiers every day, while Ukraine loses “a tenth of this number”.
Meanwhile, there are conflicting reports over the fate of the Ukrainian salt mine town of Soledar following a long and brutal battle.
Russia has claimed victory in the town, which would allow Russian troops to push on to the nearby city of Bakhmut, and cut off the Ukrainian forces there
However, Ukrainian officials insist the fight for Soledar was still going on and accused Russia of “information noise”.
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