Sergei Surovikin, known as “General Armageddon,” has reportedly been ousted from his position as head of the air force in Russia. His disappearance from public view coincided with the Wagner mercenary uprising against top military officials. This development, covered by two Russian news sources, has significant implications within the country’s military hierarchy.
Surovikin, who received Russia’s highest military honor, has become the most senior figure in the Russian military to face removal due to the mutiny that took place from June 23 to 24. This mutiny, which President Vladimir Putin suggested could have pushed Russia into civil war, targeted top officials such as Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff. While Surovikin’s dismissal is confirmed, the two aforementioned officials have retained their positions.
Although Surovikin has not yet been publicly relieved of his duties, reports from reliable sources suggest his removal is underway. RIA, a state news agency, quoted an unnamed source to confirm Surovikin’s departure, adding that Colonel-General Viktor Afzalov is temporarily assuming command of the Air Force. Another news outlet, RBC, also reported Surovikin’s removal, citing two unnamed insiders who claimed he was reassigned to a different role and had lost his post as deputy commander of Russia’s forces in Ukraine.
The shift in leadership, with an acting successor taking over, implies that authorities found fault with Surovikin’s actions during the revolt. This change seems to align with an effort to distance or sideline individuals perceived as too closely aligned with Wagner, the mercenary group behind the mutiny.
Post-mutiny, the authorities have exhibited a pattern of silencing prominent critics who question Russia’s conduct of the war. This has extended to critics both within the military, exemplified by a Russian general’s case, and outside it, such as nationalist Igor Girkin.
In essence, Surovikin’s removal, prompted by his involvement in the Wagner mercenary rebellion, underscores a broader trend within Russia’s military and political landscape to reshape leadership roles and stifle dissenting voices critical of the country’s wartime strategies.
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