Russian commander in Ukraine on the hot seat as campaign stalls

Must read

Russian Gen. Valery Gerasimov was sent from Moscow to Ukraine in mid-January to take personal command of President Vladimir Putin’s troubled invasion, now in its second year. But less than three months later, he may be on the verge of becoming the latest general sacked for Russia’s failures on the battlefield.

Gen. Gerasimov continues to serve as chief of the military’s General Staff while holding the top command post in occupied Ukraine. The plan was for him to launch a general winter offensive with the aim of extending Russian control over the whole of the disputed Donbas region.

“Eighty days on, it is increasingly apparent that this project has failed,” British military analysts said in a new analysis of the war over the weekend. “On several axes across the Donbas front, Russian forces have made only marginal gains at the cost of tens of thousands of casualties.”

In their latest assessment posted on Twitter, U.K. military intelligence officials said Russia has sustained up to 200,000 casualties since the full-scale invasion began in February 2022. But a “significant minority” of those injuries have been due to noncombat causes such as criminal activity and deaths linked to alcohol consumption among the deployed Russian troops.

“Russian commanders likely identify pervasive alcohol abuse as particularly detrimental to combat effectiveness,” British officials said. “However, with heavy drinking pervasive across much of Russian society, it has long been seen as a tacitly accepted part of military life, even on combat operations.”

Other leading causes of noncombat casualties among the Russian troops in Ukraine have included poor weapons handling, traffic accidents, and climate-related injuries such as hypothermia.

“After ten years as [chief of the General Staff] there is a realistic possibility that Gerasimov is pushing the limits of how far Russia’s political leadership will tolerate failure,” British officials said.

More articles

Latest article