Date: 21 August 2023 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński

Facing Possible Pressure from Hawks, Putin Meets with Top Generals at Military HQ

President Vladimir Putin visited the commander of Russia’s war in Ukraine and other top military brass, including Valery Gerasimov, in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don. The visit was announced on August 19 in a statement on the Kremlin website.


Rostov-on-Don is home to the Russian military headquarters for the southern region and also oversees the fighting in Ukraine. The state-run RIA Novosti news agency published a video of the Russian leader being greeted by Gerasimov. The Kremlin said the Russian president listened to reports from Valery Gerasimov, the commander in charge of Moscow’s operations in Ukraine since January, and other senior military officials. Putin last visited Rostov-on-Don back in March. Putin’s visit to the military headquarters was likely a public gesture that he continued to side with Gerasimov and his group of commanders despite these commanders’ failure to stop Wagner’s rebellion, according to the Institute for the Study of War. On June 23–24, Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed to have seized control of key military facilities in Rostov, including the headquarters of the Southern Military District. Gerasimov did not appear in public or on state TV since the aborted mutiny and his absence led to speculation of his removal by Putin following the Wagner rebellion. In late June, rumors swirled that Putin would dismiss Gerasimov while airborne forces commander General Mikhail Teplinsky had de facto taken over command of operations in Ukraine. However, Teplinsky is believed to have fallen into disgrace. It seems that Gerasimov is now stronger than before the Wagner mutiny. Interestingly, according to Bloomberg, hardline members of Russia’s security apparatus remained in favor of dismissing current Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and General Staff chief Valery Gerasimov. Security hardliners want to replace Shoigu as part of a transition to more aggressive warfare, including full-scale mobilization and martial law, according to Bloomberg, citing five sources familiar with the situation. This is also what Prigozhin called for. Perhaps some members of the siloviki group will return, encouraged by the mere fact Wagner Group got away with the mutiny.

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TAGS: migration crisis, NATO, Belarus, Russia


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