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Vladimir Putin fires general as Ukraine failures pile up

By Sarah May
|
April 9, 2023

As the conflict in Ukraine shows no signs of abating, sources have claimed that Russian Colonel-General Rustam Muradov has been relieved of his duties as a result of heavy losses sustained in recent weeks, as the Daily Mail reports.

Western sources have suggested that the final straw for President Vladimir Putin was the massive casualties suffered by Russian troops during Muradov's failed attack on the town of Vuhledar in February.

Muradov sacked

The attack on the mining town of Vuhledar was designed to be a frontal, daytime assault, but in the end, resulted in the loss of a staggering number of troops and large amounts of equipment.

Some sources indicated that a 5,000-man marine brigade was nearly eliminated, and well over a hundred armored vehicles – including 36 tanks – were destroyed in the battle, as the Mail noted.

The town of Vuhledar is thought to be of critical importance for Ukraine due to its elevated position, and if Russia were to capture the city, it would obtain leverage over villages located to the north, according to the U.K. Independent.

However, Muradov has failed to fulfil the mission of seizing the town due to what the British defense ministry described as “poorly conceived assaults.”

Heavy losses cited

As the Independent further noted, Muradov had a reputation as one of Russia's most experienced military leaders due to his participation in advances in Chechnya and Syria.

However, he is now taking the brunt of the blame for catastrophic losses of both soldiers and munitions in losing campaigns in the all-important Donbas region.

During the attack on Vuhledar, Muradov was said to have sent troops directly into Ukrainian artillery fire as well as across minefields, as Newsweek noted, ushering his men into what many viewed as certain death.

British defense ministry estimates suggested that upwards of 500 Russian troops perished daily during the attack on Vuhledar, dealing a massive blow to the fighting force itself, but also to the reputation of the elite units that participated in the disastrous outing.

Dismissal lauded

According to the Mail, the sacking of Muradov will come as positive news to many of Russia's military experts and war journalists, some of whom demanded public trial of the generals who oversaw the debacle at Vuhledar.

Former Russian intelligence officer Igor Girkin said of those military leaders, “Some of them are complete cretins – all the mistakes that were made before were repeated.”

Girkin, marveled at the incompetence that led to many of the nation's finest special forces soldiers and tank crews being essentially decimated “like turkeys in a shooting range” by Ukrainians who had little trouble holding higher positions.

Another source explained to the Moscow Times, “Muradov was suspended because he was a mad idiot who was able to...order soldiers to go to certain death. A lot of people complained about him.”

Changes afoot

Word from the Institute for the Study of War last week was that Muradov was likely to be replaced by Lieutenant General Andrei Kuzmenko, according to the Independent.

This change comes on the heels of Putin's January decision to demote General Sergei Surovikin, whose status as top battlefield commander in Ukraine only began back in October.

It was then that the Kremlin tapped Valery Gerasimov to serve as overall commander in the conflict, another move some observers believe is suggestive of Putin's increasing need to show signs of successful prosecution of the war in Ukraine, even in the face of noteworthy failures.

In addition to leadership shake-ups at the highest levels, reports indicate that Putin is also poised to engage in additional recruitment efforts designed to yield 400,000 new servicemembers due to the unexpectedly high volume of losses his military has sustained. Precisely what methods may be used to secure enlistment in such massive numbers, however, only time will tell.