Ukraine war: Russian general fired after criticising army leaders

Source: BBC

A top Russian general says he has been removed from his post in Ukraine after telling military chiefs the truth about the dire situation on the front line.

Maj Gen Ivan Popov was the commander of the 58th Army, which has been fighting in the southern Zaporizhzhia region.

In a voice message, Maj Gen Popov said he raised questions about high casualty rate and lack of artillery support.

“It was necessary either to keep quiet and be a coward or to say it the way it is,” he said.

“I had no right to lie in the name of you, in the name of my fallen comrades in arms, so I outlined all the problems which exist.”

The voice message was posted to telegram by Russian MP Andrei Gurulyov, who is a former military commander and frequent commentator on state TV. It is unclear when the message was recorded.

Among the issues Maj Gen Popov said he highlighted to his superiors were the lack of proper counter battery systems to help repel Ukrainian artillery attacks, as well as a lack of military intelligence.

The commander said his dismissal was demanded by senior commanders – who he accused of treason – and approved by the Russian defence minister, Sergei Shoigu.

Russian military bloggers – often the most insightful form of information in the absence of official comment from Moscow – reported that the order to dismiss Maj Gen Popov had come from the head of Russia’s armed forces, Gen Valery Gerasimov.

They said Gen Gerasimov accused Maj Gen Popov of “alarmism and blackmailing senior management” after he highlighted the need to rotate soldiers who had been in the front line for a sustained period of time and had suffered significant losses.

“The senior chiefs apparently sensed some kind of danger from me and quickly concocted an order from the defence minister in just one day and got rid of me,” Maj Gen Popov said.

“The Ukrainian army could not break through our ranks at the front but our senior chief hit us from the rear, viciously beheading the army at the most difficult and intense moment.”

The Russian defence ministry has yet to comment on the dismissal.

Zaporizhzhia and the eastern Donetsk region have become the focus of Ukraine’s counteroffensive, which was launched over a month ago, but has struggled to penetrate well established Russian defensive lines.

On Wednesday, another Russian MP said former Russian commander Gen Sergei Surovikin, who has not been seen in public since the Wagner mutiny, was “resting”.

Gen Surovikin was said to enjoy close relations with the former Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin and there had been media reports that he had been arrested following the brief revolt.

There has been no official confirmation or comment about his whereabouts.

Meanwhile, another senior Russian general – Lt Gen Oleg Tsokov – is said to have been killed in a strike in Ukraine’s occupied south coast this week, although his death has not been officially confirmed by Russia’s defence ministry.

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