Putin appoints new commander for Ukraine 

In this group photo taken Thursday, March 17, 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, poses with Colonel General Alexander Dvornikov during an award ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. (Alexei Nikolsky/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool/AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has named a new general to lead the war in Ukraine as his army changes plans after failing to take kyiv, according to a US official and a European official.

Officials told CNN that Army General Alexander Dvornikov, commander of Russia’s Southern Military District, has been named theater commander of Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine.

“It speaks to a Russian acknowledgment that things are going extremely wrong and that they need to do something different,” the European official said.

A new theater commander with extensive combat experience could bring a level of coordination to an assault now expected to focus on the Donbas region, rather than multiple fronts.

Dvornikov, 60, was the first commander of Russia’s military operations in Syria, after Putin sent troops there in September 2015 to support the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. During Dvornikov’s command in Syria from September 2015 to June 2016, Russian jets backed the Assad regime and its allies as they besieged rebel-held eastern Aleppo, bombing densely populated neighborhoods and causing significant civilian casualties. The city fell to Syrian government forces in December 2016.

Russian forces have used a similar heavy-handed approach in parts of Ukraine, hitting residential buildings in major cities and demolishing much of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.

“We will see how effective it turns out to be,” the European official said. “Russian doctrine, Russian tactics remain pretty much the same as they have been since Afghanistan.”
“They do things the same way,” the official added.

Military analysts and US officials familiar with intelligence assessments have speculated that Russian generals are aiming to present Putin with some tangible battlefield progress before Victory Day on May 9, when Russia eyes defeat. of Nazi Germany and traditionally marks the occasion with a parade in Moscow. red square.

The European official described it as a “self-imposed deadline,” which could lead the Russians to make additional mistakes.

But it could also potentially lead Russian forces to commit more atrocities, as allegedly happened in the kyiv suburb of Bucha during the Russian occupation. “The stench of these war crimes will hang over these Russian armed forces for many years to come,” the official said.

Former UK ambassador to Russia Sir Roderic Lyne told Sky News on Saturday that Moscow had appointed a new general with a “pretty wild record in Syria to try to win at least some territory in Donetsk that Putin could present as a victory”.

Assigning a new commanding general for Russia’s war in Ukraine may be an attempt to create a more cohesive strategy. CNN previously reported that Russia did not have a theater-wide commander for Ukraine operations, meaning units from different Russian military districts have been operating without coordination and at times at cross purposes, according to two US defense officials. USA

The United States has previously assessed that Putin would likely appoint a general whose forces have been operating in southern Ukraine because that is where the Russians have taken and held more territory, as opposed to the Russian attempt to encircle kyiv and cities in northern Ukraine. an effort that recently ended with a retirement.

Ukraine’s General Staff said on Friday that Russian forces had completed their withdrawal from the Sumy region of northern Ukraine while continuing to build up forces in the country’s east.

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