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Prigozhin Listed as Passenger on Aircraft That Crashed, Killing All Aboard

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Gen. Sergei Surovikin, a former commander of Russia’s forces in Ukraine was faraway from his put up because the chief of Russia’s Air Drive, in what seems to be Kremlin’s most public motion towards these related to the armed revolt of the mercenary warlord Yevgeny V. Prigozhin in June.

The low-key crackdown in response to the mutiny, essentially the most drastic menace to President Vladimir V. Putin in his 23-year rule, highlights the Russian chief’s cautious crisis-management model. To date, Common Surovikin is the one senior official with ties to Mr. Prigozhin confirmed by Russian state media to have been demoted or in any other case punished in its aftermath.

Some Wagner fighters have relocated to Belarus, the place officers have mentioned the mercenaries are coaching Belarusian troops; others stay energetic within the Central African Republic, Mali and elsewhere in Africa, the place they’ve helped prop up authoritarian leaders loyal to Moscow.

Mr. Prigozhin on Monday launched a quick video message on-line for the primary time within the mutiny’s aftermath, hinting that he was in Africa, although the video recording’s timing and site have been unclear. Wearing fatigues and holding an assault rifle, he mentioned that Wagner was “making Russia even higher, on all continents, and Africa much more free.”

Common Surovikin has not been seen in public for the reason that revolt and his whereabouts has remained a thriller. In July, Andrei Kartapolov, the top of the protection committee of Russia’s decrease home of Parliament, mentioned that Common Surovikin was “taking a relaxation” in response to questions from a reporter.

On Wednesday, RIA Novosti, a Russian state information company, mentioned that “the ex-commander in chief of the Aerospace Forces of Russia, Sergei Surovikin has now been relieved of his put up.” It mentioned that Col. Gen. Viktor Afzalov, chief of the air drive’s basic workers, had been named because the appearing commander.

“Surovikin was relieved of his put up in reference to the switch to a different job. He’s now on a brief trip,” the RIA report added, citing a report from the Russian information outlet RBC.

Analysts have described Common Surovikin, known as “Common Armageddon” for his ruthless ways, as a brutally efficient chief in a Russian army that even many Russian cheerleaders of the struggle have described as troubled by incompetence in its command construction. However his hyperlinks to Mr. Prigozhin’s Wagner mercenary group, which took over a Russian metropolis and commenced a march on Moscow in its transient mutiny, appeared to precipitate his fall from grace.

U.S. officers consider that Common Surovikin had advance data of Mr. Prigozhin’s revolt. Within the hours after the mutiny started, the Russian authorities shortly launched a video of the final calling on the Wagner fighters to face down.

Rumors have been circulating amongst Russia’s army bloggers, a few of whom have shut ties to Russian officers and the army, that Common Surovikin had been beneath home arrest for the reason that failed mutiny.

The stories about Common Surovikin’s firing are “removed from information for folks within the know,” wrote Mikhail Zvinchuk, a well-liked pro-war Russian blogger who posts beneath the moniker Rybar on the messaging app Telegram. He added that Common Surovikin misplaced his job instantly after Mr. Prigozhin’s revolt.

Common Surovikin was appointed to steer what Russian officers describe as its “particular army operation” in Ukraine in October 2022 earlier than being relieved of that job in January. In 2015, he commanded Russia’s forces in the course of the nation’s intervention in Syria, and he was the top of the Russian air drive from 2017 onward.

In his three-month stint because the commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, Common Surovikin helped stabilize Russia’s flailing struggle effort. Within the fall, he oversaw what analysts described as a professionally managed withdrawal of Russian troops from the southern Ukrainian metropolis of Kherson, the place they have been practically encircled final fall and reduce off from provides.

He’s additionally believed to have spearheaded the development of Russia’s daunting community of defensive traces within the territory it occupies in Ukraine, which have challenged Kyiv’s counteroffensive.

Common Surovikin’s substitute, Common Afzalov, has been chief of the Air Drive’s basic workers since 2018, in keeping with Russian state media, having risen via the ranks. He was “immediately concerned in planning and organizing” the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, in keeping with Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Inside Ministry, in a put up on the social media platform X, previously referred to as Twitter.

Common Afzalov had beforehand served because the interim commander of Russia’s air drive whereas Common Surovikin led Russia’s armed forces in Ukraine. Suspicions that Common Afzalov had changed Common Surovikin have been raised in July, when the previous was proven in official video footage delivering an air drive report back to Common Valery V. Gerasimov, Russia’s prime army officer.



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