Russian General Sergei ‘Armageddon’ Surovikin was absent from a high-level war meeting on Sunday, fueling further speculation that he is currently being questioned about the Wagner uprising.
While uncertainty remains about the fate of the top general, his boss, Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov, was seen in public for the first time since the short-lived mutiny, as he led the meeting from command headquarters. Russian war in Rostov-on-Don.
Russia’s top general showed himself on video as he sought to prove he is still in charge of the war despite an unholy power struggle at the top of Vladimir Putin’s military command.
General Valery Gerasimov, 67, had not been seen since the June 24 armed mutiny against Putin’s regime, where he had been one of the two main targets of Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s insurgency.
The footage indicates that Putin has kept his two most powerful military officers, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Gerasimov, in their posts despite Prigozhin’s demands to fire them for alleged incompetence in handling military operations in Ukraine.
Gerasimov was shown ordering his subordinates to destroy Ukrainian missile sites in a video released Monday, his first public appearance since a failed mercenary mutiny on June 24.
Sitting in a military command center on a white leather seat chairing a meeting with top generals, Gerasimov, 67, was shown asking for and then listening to a report from Viktor Afzalov, a deputy in the aerospace forces of General Sergei Surovikin.
Surovikin has not been in public since the riot. Surovikin, who had long-standing ties to mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, is rumored to have been detained after the rebellion.
Reports had previously circulated that Gerasimov had been relieved of war command while remaining in his post as chief of the armed forces general staff.
The man who now took responsibility for the military operation, Colonel General Mikhail Teplinskiy, 54, is believed to have attended the meeting.
Sitting in a military command center on a white leather seat chairing a meeting with top generals, Gerasimov, 67, asked for and then listened to a report from Viktor Afzalov, deputy of Surovikin’s aerospace forces.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the footage showed Gerasimov in a meeting on Sunday. He described him as chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces and commander of Moscow’s forces in Ukraine, the positions he held before the mutiny.
The normally well-informed military-linked ‘Z’ channels have broadcast speculation about Gerasimov’s death fueled by his absence until today since June 24 when he fled Rostov amid the Wagner revolt, hiding out in a secure flat in a point.
Gerasimov’s appearance does not necessarily put an end to speculation, as he is Russia’s most important military figure as chief of the general staff, and rumors did not say that he had been removed from this position.
He heard today how Ukraine had launched a weekend attack on the Crimean bridge and a military airfield along with the claim that Russian air defenses had shot down oncoming S-200 missiles.
‘The air defense forces destroyed two missiles that attacked the Kerch [Crimean] Bridge and the Morozovsk airfield: there were no casualties and no destruction,” Afzalov told him.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the footage showed Gerasimov in a meeting on Sunday.
Gerasimov asked for and then listened to a report from Viktor Afzalov (pictured), deputy of the aerospace forces in Surovikin.
In the photo, Putin awards Surovikin the Order of Saint George on December 31, 2022. He has not been seen since the riot.
Gerasimov shouted orders to his commanders: ‘The Main Directorate will continue to work systematically to identify storage sites and launch positions for enemy missiles and other attack weapons.
‘Plan to open fire, maintain air defense and readiness to cover critical infrastructure and industrial facilities within range of the enemy.
“If necessary, take additional measures to improve the protection of these facilities against air attacks in the shortest possible time.”
The footage was unusual in that Gerasimov has rarely sought this kind of limelight, and was evidently meant to show that he’s still in charge despite a number of rumours.
But it raised big questions about the late ‘General Armageddon’, a former Putin favorite now seen as the scapegoat for armed revolt.
Dubbed ‘General Armageddon’ by the Russian media for his alleged cruelty, Surovikin is formally commander-in-chief of the aerospace forces.
But Putin, 70, has repeatedly replaced his commanders during the war amid failures to meet his goals of crushing Ukraine.
“A power struggle is taking place and it is questionable whether Gerasimov is controlling the war on a day-to-day basis,” a Russian military expert said.
“Putin has allowed a vacuum to form because of his weakened position.”