A Russian general says senior military officers have betrayed soldiers fighting in Ukraine

  • The Russian general says he has been dismissed
  • Senior officers say Russian soldiers betrayed
  • The Ministry of Defense is silent about the fate of the general
  • The general says that the soldiers are dying for lack of artillery

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Russian general said he was removed from his post as commander after he reported to the military leadership the dire situation on the front in Ukraine, where he said Russian soldiers had been stabbed in the back by the commander’s failures. military officers.

After the June 24 mutiny by Wagner’s mercenaries, the biggest domestic challenge to the Russian state in decades, President Vladimir Putin has so far kept Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov at their jobs.

Major General Ivan Popov, commander of the 58th Combined Arms Army, said in an audio message released by Russian lawmaker Andrei Gorolyov that he was fired after telling the truth to senior officers about the situation at the front.

Popov said: “The Ukrainian army could not break through our ranks in the front, but our senior commander struck us from the rear, brutally beheading the army at the most difficult moment.”

Popov, who commanded Russian units in southern Ukraine, openly raised the deaths of Russian soldiers from Ukrainian artillery and said that the army lacked proper counter artillery systems and enemy artillery reconnaissance.

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There was no immediate comment from the Ministry of Defense and Reuters was unable to independently verify the authenticity of the audio message. Deputy Gorolyov is a hard-line former army commander who appears regularly on state television.

It was not clear when the message was recorded. The Ministry of Defense did not say anything about his dismissal.

This public criticism of Russia’s military leadership from a battle-hardened general less than three weeks after the Wagner Rebellion indicates the level of discontent within the Russian military as it fights Europe’s biggest land war since World War II.

the Russian army

Putin, Russia’s supreme leader since 1999, said the rebellion could have pushed Russia into civil war and likened it to the revolutionary unrest of 1917 that forced Russia to essentially withdraw from World War I.

The Kremlin has sought to show calm, but Russian officials and diplomats told Reuters the full significance of the rebellion – which Prigozhin said was aimed solely at settling scores with Shoigu and Gerasimov – had yet to begin.

Neither Wagner Commander Yevgeny Prigozhin nor General Sergey Surovikin, the deputy commander of Russia’s military operations in Ukraine, have been seen in public since the day of the mutiny.

For months Prigozhin had been openly insulting Putin’s top military men, using a variety of coarse insults and prison slang that shocked senior Russian officials, but neither Putin, nor Shoigu, nor Gerasimov responded to it publicly.

Popov, 48, said he kept his distance from the army’s “wrestlers” but faced a watershed moment when he told the military commanders the truth.

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“There was a difficult situation with top managers in which it was necessary either to remain silent and cowardly, or to say the matter as it is,” said Popov. He did not say when the complaints were filed.

“I had no right to lie in your name, in the name of my fallen comrades-in-arms, so I outlined all the problems there.”

A telegram channel linked to Wagner’s mercenaries said that Popov had raised the need to rotate exhausted troops from the front line with Gerasimov. Reuters could not verify this report.

“It seems that the senior commanders felt some kind of danger from me and quickly prepared an order from the Minister of Defense in just one day and got rid of me,” Popov said. “I am waiting for my destiny.”

(Reporting by Jay Faulconbridge). Editing by Andrew Osborne

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

As Moscow bureau chief, Jay directs coverage of Russia and the CIS. Prior to Moscow, Jay ran coverage of Brexit as Head of the London Bureau (2012-2022). On the night of Brexit, his team scored one of Reuters’ historic victories – bringing the news of Brexit first to the world and financial markets. Jay graduated from the University of London…

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