Russian Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov has been suspended amid the faltering invasion of the Kremlin, a senior Ukrainian official has claimed.
Oleksiy Arestovych, military adviser to the Ukrainian president, said “preliminary information” suggested that General Gerasimov had been removed from his post while Vladimir Putin and his entourage weighed whether he should be allowed to continue leading the armed forces of the country. country.
There has been no official confirmation of the reported sacking, although speculation of a purge of top military commanders grew after General Gerasimov was absent from Russia’s annual Victory Day parade on Monday.
The Russian armed forces suffered several major setbacks in their war, failing to take kyiv early and suffering heavy losses, both in human life and material.
Following their failure to capture the capital, Russian forces withdrew and regrouped – and focused on Ukraine’s eastern Donbass, an area where Moscow-backed separatists fought Ukrainian troops for eight years.
But Russia’s advance there has also been slow, and Western officials say Russia has failed to take any towns.
One of the most dramatic examples of Ukraine’s ability to prevent easy victories is in Mariupol, where Ukrainian fighters locked in a steel mill denied Russia full control of the city.
The lack of Russian gains has led to speculation that Mr Putin is planning a purge of military leaders who are blamed for the failures.
Reports said a Telegram channel run by the Ukrainian Interior Ministry claimed that two other commanders had been sacked due to battlefield casualties.
The Telegram feed alleged that the commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Igor Osipov, had been removed from his post and arrested, while the commander of the 6th Army, Lieutenant General Vladislav Ershov, was allegedly sacked, as well as the commander of the tank army of the Western Military District, Lieutenant General Sergei Kisel and one of the deputy commanders, [and] Commander of the 22nd Army Corps of the Southern Military District Major General Arkady Marzoev.
Ben Wallace, Britain’s defense secretary, said last week that Russia’s military leaders were “terrified of being purged and deported”.
“Be careful if you order something alone in the Russian system because it might not last long,” Wallace said.
“There is a point of tension in the system. As much as they respect the former KGB man [Mr Putin] to be a strong leader, the Russian general staff will become the scapegoat of its mess.