Russian General Sergey Surovikin, once in charge of the offensive in Ukraine, was sacked from his post as commander-in-chief of the aerospace forces, according to several media, two months after the Wagner rebellion, to which he was considered close.
“Army General Sergei Surovikin has been removed from his post,” the state news agency Ria Novosti said on Wednesday, citing a source familiar with the internal army movements.
According to Ria Novosti, Mr Surovikin, 56, has been replaced by General Viktor Afzalov.
Neither the Kremlin nor the Russian Ministry of Defense made any immediate announcements, while changes within the army are often made in opacity.
The Russian daily RBK and the former editor of Echo of Moscow radio, Alexei Venediktov, however announced the dismissal of Sergei Surovikin, as did Rybar, an influential military blog covering the fighting in Ukraine.
Since the end of the rebellion of the paramilitary group Wagner at the end of June, there have been rumors of reshuffles within the military command, in particular concerning Sergei Surovikin.
During Wagner’s 24-hour revolt which shook Russian power, Mr Surovikin called on the mutineers to “stop” and return to their barracks “before it is too late”. But the general was nevertheless considered close to Wagner and his leader, Evguéni Prigojine.
Nicknamed “General Armageddon” for his brutal methods, he was one of the main commanders of the Russian military intervention in Ukraine. He had previously received open support and praise from Yevgeny Prigojine and Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Chechnya.
Appointed in October 2022 commander of the forces in Ukraine, he had in particular had to order in November following the withdrawal from the city of Kherson and the right bank of the Dnieper (South), a humiliating defeat for Moscow.
Only three months after his appointment, he was replaced in this post by the chief of the Russian general staff, Valéri Guérassimov.
A veteran of the Soviet war in Afghanistan and the second war in Chechnya in the 2000s, Mr. Surovikin also participated in the brutal Russian campaign in Syria in 2015, which also earned him the nickname “Syrian butcher”.