According to an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, there is speculation that Russian President Vladimir Putin has sacked his commander-in-chief as part of the latest sacking rumor amid his invasion of Ukraine.
Oleksiy Arestovych, a presidential adviser, said in an interview with Russian dissident lawyer Mark Feygin on Wednesday that “preliminary information” indicated that Valery Gerasimov, Russia’s chief of staff, had been sacked.
The reported sacking could not be independently verified and the Kremlin gave no indication of a top echelon ousting.
However, Gerasimov – who was seen briefing Russian President Vladimir Putin alongside Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu across a long table in the run-up to the war – was notably absent from the this week’s Victory Day parade in Moscow.
Gerasimov is widely regarded as one of the architects of the Kremlin’s Ukrainian strategy.
The rumors come after reports over the past month that other leaders of the failed invasion have also been sidelined, including Black Sea Fleet commander Admiral Igor Osipov.
Several Russian army commanders were also reportedly removed from their posts, including Lieutenant General Vladislav Ershov, Lieutenant General Sergei Kisel and Major General Arkady Marzoev.
Meanwhile, while Arestovych said Putin may be cleaning up, Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Major General Kyrylo Budanov said the opposite may be true.
In an interview with Sky News on Friday, Budanov suggested an insider coup against Putin was already underway.
The Ukrainian general said he expected the war to be over by the end of the year.
“The breaking point will be in the second half of August. Most of the active combat actions will be completed by the end of this year,” he predicted.