Moscow has reportedly cut another high-ranking military official as part of an “ongoing purge of insubordinate commanders,” according to a new assessment.
Major General Vladimir Seliverstov, a Russian paratrooper commander, was removed from his post as head of the 106th Guards Airborne division, Russian sources reported on Saturday. This has not been confirmed by Russia’s Ministry of Defense (MOD), and Newsweek reached out for comment via email on Sunday.
The reports suggest the alleged removal of Seliverstov “may be a part of an ongoing purge of insubordinate commanders by the Russian military command,” the Washington D.C.-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) think tank said on Saturday.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin addresses the nation in Moscow on June 26, 2023. The Kremlin is believed to have ousted another high-ranking military official as part of an “ongoing purge of insubordinate commanders,” according to a new assessment.
GAVRIIL GRIGOROV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images
Seliverstov’s reported dismissal could indicate that the “corrosion of the Russian chain of command in Ukraine is accelerating,” the think tank added.
Throughout the war in Ukraine, Western analysts have said Moscow’s forces struggle with ineffective command structures and a lack of trust or transparency through the ranks. The 106th Guards Airborne are thought to have taken on a key role in Russia’s operations in the fiercely contested city of Bakhmut in recent weeks.
Reports of Seliverstov’s removal came just days after Major General Ivan Popov, commander of the 58th Combined Arms Amy in Russia’s Southern Military District, said he was stripped of his position after raising complaints with the Kremlin from the Ukrainian front lines in the southern Zaporizhzhia region.
In a message shared on social media by Russian Duma member and state media commentator, Andrey Gurulyov, Popov said he had raised his concerns, which included a lack of counter battery systems, to officials at the “highest levels.”
“It was necessary either to keep quiet and be a coward or to say it the way it is,” he said, in one translation published by the BBC.
Popov’s message was intended for his troops, the British Defense Ministry said on Saturday, and amounted to a “scathing attack” on the top officials at the MOD.
Popov accused the MOD’s commanders of “hitting us from the rear, viciously beheading the army at the most difficult and intense moment,” the British government reported.
“Popov’s comments draw attention to serious disaffection many officers likely harbour towards the senior military leadership,” the U.K. Ministry of Defense added in a post to social media.
Although the reason for Seliverstov’s alleged firing is not known, the ISW reported that it may have been over his reputation for defending his troops.
Reports of a purge of Moscow’s top military commanders followed the Wagner Group mutiny in late June, after mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin led a short-lived armed rebellion against the Kremlin.
In the wake of the mutiny, General Sergei Surovikin, dubbed “General Armaggedon” by some Western media outlets for his military campaigns in Syria, was reportedly detained, although Russian authorities did not confirm this. Surovikin was associated with Prigozhin and has not been seen in public since the aborted uprising.
A senior Russian politician then said Surovikin, a former commander of Russia’s forces in Ukraine, was “resting.”
Purging Russia’s forces when they are battling Ukraine’s counteroffensive is poor timing from Moscow, Frederik Mertens, a strategic analyst with the Hague Center for Security Studies, previously told Newsweek.
Ridding a military of “politically unreliable elements never increases its efficiency,” he said, adding it sows an atmosphere of “insidious fear of missteps among those who remain” and cuts away capable commanders.
Source : Newsweek