Ukraine: Putin’s plans for winter discussed by analyst
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Vladimir Putin has quietly dropped another military chief as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to flounder, according to British intelligence. General Alexander Lapin is believed to have been relieved of his command following a series of retreats by occupying Russian forces in the face of a strong counter-offensive from the Ukrainian military.
He is the latest in a growing number of commanders the Russian President has done away with since the invasion began, as frustrations grow over numerous failings.
In an intelligence update earlier today, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the unceremonious deposals “represent a pattern of blame” for “failures to achieve Russian objectives on the battlefield”.
Since the invasion began nearly nine months ago, the Russian armed forces have been dogged by disorganisation, strategic missteps and miscommunication.
It is widely believed that Putin expected the invasion to be over in a matter of days, with the first thrust aiming to secure the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.
However, whereas the Russian armed forces have been unable to make any significant or lasting gains, they have faced a well-armed and galvanised opposition.
In recent months, ground troops have been forced into humiliating setbacks, ceding territory in the east towards the Donbas region, as well as currently being in the process of retreating from Kherson, a port city in the south.
As winter sets in, it is believed the Russian military are attempting to establish defensive positions before fighting is scaled back.
The MoD said today that on Thursday, Major General Alexander Linkov was reportedly appointed acting commander of Russia’s Central Military District.
Gen Lapin was until then believed to be in command of the Russian military’s Central Military District.
It said Maj Gen Linkov replaced Gen Lapin after purportedly being removed from his post at the end of last month.
The MoD added: “If confirmed, this follows a series of dismissals of senior Russian military commanders since the onset of the invasion in February 2022.
“The Commanders of the Eastern, Southern, and Western Military Districts were replaced earlier this year.”
Gen Lapin was branded a “hero of Russia” by Putin just four months ago, and had commanded the district since 2017. His removal would be the fourth such one this year.
The MoD said: “These dismissals represent a pattern of blame against senior Russian military commanders for failures to achieve Russian objectives on the battlefield.
“This is in part likely an attempt to insulate and deflect blame from Russian senior leadership at home.”
Gen Lapin had faced fierce criticism domestically at the beginning of October, after forces under his leadership withdrew from Lyman, a strategically significant region between Izyum and Severodonestsk.
Ramzan Kadyrov, the outspoken leader of Chechnya – who has been a vociferous proponent of the war – said on October 3: “It’s not shameful that Lapin is talentless. It’s that he’s protected from above by leaders on the General Staff.
“If it were up to me, I’d demote Lapin to a private, strip his awards, and send him to the front with a gun in his hands so he could wash away his disgrace with blood.”
The MoD said that as well as being criticised for his “poor performance on the battlefield” by Kadyrov, he had also faced the ire of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner Group – a mercenary outfit linked to the Kremlin.
Gen Lapin previously served as the chief of staff for Russian forces in Syria.
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