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Gerasimov Appointed Top Commander In Reshuffle Of Leaders Overseeing Russian Forces In Ukraine.

Valery Gerasimov (left) replaces Sergei Surovkin, who was appointed to the post three moths ago.

Valery Gerasimov (left) replaces Sergei Surovkin, who was appointed to the post three moths ago.

Russia has again replaced the commander of its forces in Ukraine in a reshuffle announced by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who appointed Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov to oversee the invasion.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement on January 11 that Shoigu named Gerasimov as commander of the combined forces for what Moscow calls its "special military operation."

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Gerasimov replaces Sergei Surovikin, who was appointed to the post on October 8 in the first official announcement of a single overall commander for all Russian forces fighting in the ongoing invasion, which Moscow launched on February 24.

Within days of Surovikin being named to oversee the invasion Russia began striking Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. The first such blow was inflicted on October 10, and the most recent significant attack on infrastructure was on December 31.

Surovikin was also in charge when Russian forces withdrew from the southern regional capital of Kherson in November in a battlefield setback for Moscow.

In the leadership reshuffle announced on January 11, Surovikin will become one of three deputies under Gerasimov, the ministry said. He remains commander of the air force.

The other two deputies are army General Oleg Salyukov, who will serve as commander of the ground forces, and Colonel General Aleksei Kim, deputy chief of the General Staff.

"The increase in the level of leadership of the special operation is linked to the expansion of the scale of the tasks at hand and the need to organize closer interaction between troops," the ministry said.

Russian forces are currently engaged in intense battles around the town of Soledar in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine's Defense Ministry has said Russian forces, including those of the mercenary Vagner group, have suffered "colossal losses" in trying to capture Soledar.

Gerasimov has faced sharp criticism from pro-war military bloggers for Russia's multiple setbacks on the battlefield and failure to secure victory in a campaign the Kremlin had expected to be over quickly.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP

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