MOSCOW (Reuters) – Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff of Russia’s armed forces, was shown publicly on Monday by the Defense Ministry for the first time since before the failed June 24 mutiny by the mercenary group Wagner, signaling that he had kept his job.
Here are some facts about Gerasimov:
as chief of the general staff
Gerasimov, now 67, is the third most powerful man in the Russian military after President Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Along with them, he is believed to be carrying one of the three nuclear briefcases that can send orders for a nuclear strike.
* Putin named the army chief – the second-highest rank in the armed forces – chief of the general staff and deputy defense minister on November 9, 2012, three days after Putin’s ally Shoigu was named defense minister.
Gerasimov played key roles in Russia’s seizure of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and in the game-changing Russian military support for President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war.
* The United States imposed sanctions on him the day after the invasion of Ukraine, saying he was directly among those responsible.
* In January, Putin appointed Gerasimov to lead the election campaign for Ukraine, and appointed General Sergei Surovkin, who had been appointed to this post three months earlier, as one of his three deputies.
Many nationalist war bloggers with license to criticize the conduct of the war blamed Gerasimov for the fact that the army of a superpower—supposedly costly modernized in the last fifteen years—has measurably failed to subdue its much smaller neighbour.
– Critics in the West and even within Russia say the army was naive, poorly equipped, slow to respond and suffering from muddled command structures.
After last year’s mobilization failed to boost Russia’s fortunes, rumors circulated for months that Gerasimov, largely invisible to the public, would be sidelined.
* At war games in Russia’s Far East in September, the Zvezda military news service released a video of Putin and Gerasimov sitting apart in an observation booth in awkward silence while awaiting Shoigu’s arrival.
* Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, sharply criticized Gerasimov and Shoigu and staged a short-lived rebellion on June 23-24 demanding their dismissal.
* Gerasimov has not been seen in public since early June. He did not appear in public or make a statement during the revolt, which Prigozhin called off after receiving a promise that he could go into exile and the other rebels would not face recriminations.
* Gerasimov was born on September 8, 1955 in Kazan. He graduated from the Kazan Supreme Tank Command in 1977, from the Malinovsky Armed Forces Academy of Armored Forces in 1987, and from the General Staff Military Academy another decade later.
* In 2007 he was appointed commander of the Leningrad Military District and in 2009 he was appointed commander of the Moscow Military District.
(Writing by Jay Faulconbridge and Gareth Jones; Editing by Kevin Levy)
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