UK Suspects Rapid Turnover Of Russian Officers Reflects 'Internal Divisions' In Putin's Military

It's yet another sign that Russia is struggling more than it might admit in the Ukraine war.
Russian soldiers and president Vladimir Putin
Russian soldiers and president Vladimir Putin

The “continued churn” of senior military figures in the Russian army is an indication of the military’s internal struggles, according to UK intelligence.

Russia has launched especially heavy missile strikes towards Ukraine in recent days, with sirens wailing across the country, including the capital of Kyiv.

It’s considered the largest aerial assault since Russia’s invasion began back in February, targeting the energy infrastructure and civilian population in particular.

But, away from the frontline, Russia’s own military is struggling, according to the UK’s Ministry of Defence.

The MoD explained in its latest update that “Lieutenant General Yevgeniy Nikiforov is likely in the process of taking over command of Russia’s Western Group of Forces (WGF) in Ukraine”.

“He would be at least the fourth commander of the formation since the invasion and replaces Colonel General Sergei Kuzovlev, who was appointed just three months ago,” the MoD explained.

The intelligence also suggests Nikiforov would have been “heavily involved” in the “disastrous attempt” to advance on Kyiv from the north-west earlier in the war.

The MoD pointed out that the newly-promoted officer is likely responsible for holding Russia’s forces in the Luhansk Oblast.

It added: “The continued churn of senior Russian officers probably reflects internal divisions regarding the Russian Ministry of Defence’s future conduct of the war.”

This changeover within the Russian ranks comes shortly after Russian president Vladimir Putin made a rare admission that the war was not going to plan.

Speaking to security workers in a video address, he acknowledged the ongoing situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions – two of the four Ukrainian areas Russia has illegally annexed – is “extremely difficult.”

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, the UK’s chief of defence staff, also predicted in mid-December that the war will only “get worse for Russia” as the “cupboard is bare”.

Speaking to an audience at the Royal United Services Institute, he said: “Let me tell Putin tonight what his own generals and ministers are probably too afraid to say: that Russia faces a critical shortage of artillery munitions.”


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