Russia is firing senior commanders for their stumbles in the early stages of the Ukraine invasion, and a “culture of cover-ups” will likely strain Moscow’s forces in the days ahead, British intelligence officials said Thursday.
The series of firings follow Russia’s failed bid to seize Kyiv, the capital, amid fierce resistance by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his army, who’ve been armed by western powers.
• Russian Lt. Gen. Serhiy Kisel, who commanded the elite 1st Guards Tank Army, has been suspended for failing to capture Kharkiv, the U.K. Ministry of Defense tweeted.
• Vice-Adm. Igor Osipov, who commanded Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, has also likely been suspended following the sinking of the cruiser Moskva in April.
• And while Russian Chief of the General Staff Valeriy Gerasimov probably remains in his post, “it is unclear whether he retains the confidence of President Putin,” the ministry wrote.
“A culture of cover-ups and scapegoating is probably prevalent within the Russian military and security system. Many officials involved in the invasion of Ukraine will likely be increasingly distracted by efforts to avoid personal culpability for Russia’s operational setbacks,” the British officials tweeted. “This will likely place further strain on Russia‘s centralized model of command and control, as officers increasingly seek to defer key decisions to their superiors. It will be difficult for Russia to regain the initiative under these conditions.”
Russia is attempting to solidify control over the southeastern portion of Ukraine after holdout fighters at a steel plant in Mariupol surrendered in recent days. There are signs Moscow is trying to assert its control over this swath of the country and may try to annex it, linking Russia with the Crimean peninsula it swiped from Ukraine in 2014.