In April, a Western official told the BBC that Russia had reorganized command of its operations in Ukraine. The new supreme commander for the Russian war of aggression was henceforth General Alexander Dvornikov.
Dvornikov is a particularly experienced commander, having led Russian operations in Syria, among other things. His job was to “improve overall leadership and control,” the BBC official said.
About two and a half months later, Dvornikov apparently lost his high office again. Russian reserve officer Oleg Marzoev claimed on June 21 that the current commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces, Sergey Suroviking, would replace Dvornikov as commander in chief.
The investigative journalist group Bellingcat previously reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin was planning to replace Dvornikov. Reasons are said to have been his excessive alcohol consumption and a lack of trust among the Russian armed forces.
So far, so clear. However, other possible successors and scenarios are mentioned. The Ukrainian “Conflict Intelligence Team” reports that Colonel-General Gennady Zhidko, currently head of the military-political directorate of the Russian armed forces, is to replace Dvornikov as commander of Ukrainian operations.
There are also rumors that Dvornikov may have been promoted and Colonel-General Andrei Serdyukov, the current commander of the Russian Airborne Forces, will take his place.
However, the US think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW) considers this to be “highly unlikely” since sources close to the Kremlin have already announced Serdyukov’s resignation. Ukrainian sources even reported on June 17 that the Kremlin fired Serdyukov because of poor performance during the invasion and heavy casualties among the paratroopers.
The ISW assumes that the Kremlin is in the process of radically reshaping the command structure of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This would indicate the purge of senior officers held responsible for Russia’s failures in Ukraine.
The ISW goes on to say that the appointment and removal of commanders-in-chief is a drastic step in the midst of a major combat operation. This in turn could point to serious crises within the Russian high command and major problems in the Kremlin’s warfare.