Panicked Putin ‘purges’ another top commander in desperate bid to cling to power
Footage allegedly shows Voronezh in Russia ‘under attack’
Vladimir Putin has dismissed yet another top Russian commander as he continues his ruthless purge of senior army officers in the wake of the Wagner mutiny.
The Kremlin boss has already removed General Sergey Surovikin and and Major-General Ivan Popov from their respective posts within the last three weeks.
And now Major General Vladimir Seliverstov, the commander of Russia’s 106th VDV airborne Division, has been given his marching orders.
The 49-year-old officer took part in the initial invasion of Ukraine last February and was involved in the failed attempt to capture Kyiv.
His soldiers were subsequently accused of committing war crimes against civilians in the Kyiv region.
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Since January his units were also fighting in and around Bakhmut, which was finally captured in May after months of gruelling and grinding battles that inflicted huge casualties on both sides.
The reasons for his dismissal have yet to be confirmed, but Russian military bloggers believe it may be due to his willingness to criticise his senior commanders and speak up for his troops.
The blogger “Military Informant” wrote on his Telegram channel: “It is reported that Major General Vladimir Seliverstov was removed from the post of commander of the 106th Guards Airborne Division of the Airborne Forces.
“The reason for the removal is currently unknown, but it could be because of the uncompromising nature of the divisional commander, who was not used to being silent when defending issues regarding his personnel.”
He noted that during Moscow’s unsuccessful push to take Kyiv, the commander had “not always agreed with the decisions of the headquarters of the Airborne Forces”.
The dismissal of Seliverstov follows hot on the heels of the removal of Major General Popov, commander of Russia’s 58th Combined Arms Army (CAA).
The 58th CAA has carried out effective defensive manoeuvres against Ukraine’s forces on the southern front, with Popov considered one of Putin’s best commanders.
The Major General revealed he had been relieved of his post after telling his superiors the truth about the situation on the battlefield.
Popov is said to have complained about heavy losses among his men and a lack of effective artillery counter-battery capabilities.
Ilya Ponomarev, a former Russian MP and prominent Putin critic, said Popov was the victim of a blame game initiated by Valery Gerasimov, the head of Putin’s army, to cover up for his own failings during the Wagner mutiny.
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In the current climate of recriminations, any sign of insubordination or disloyalty to the top command is being brutally punished.
“What’s happening is that right now it’s the moment of a major purge that started after Prigozhin’s mutiny and that’s very important,” he told the Express.
“Gerasimov, as the chief of staff, is trying to identify scapegoats to cover for his own incompetency and inability to do anything during the mutiny.
“There was Surovikin, who appeared to refuse to take part on any of the sides of the mutiny and that was his crime – that he didn’t give orders to shoot at the Wagner troops.
“But now they identify all the signs of minor disloyalty to point fingers and I think Popov fell victim to this.
“So he dared to criticise – it’s not that he used the word ‘accused’ – it’s not that he accused someone of something he was just criticising the drawbacks and that was enough in the circumstances.”
Military analysts from the Institute for the Study of War believe that Russia’s top brass are concerned that criticism of the war effort by outspoken commanders in the field is seriously damaging their authority and setting dangerous precedents.
They wrote in a recent bulletin: “Seliverstov’s dismissal suggests that there is a deep concern within the Russian military leadership about the chain of command in Ukraine.
“Popov’s, Russian VDV Commander Colonel General Mikhail Teplinsky’s, and Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin’s challenges to Gerasimov’s and Shoigu’s authority have established a precedent for insubordination that can hollow out support for the Russian military command among senior officers.”
Colonel General Mikhail Teplinsky was removed from his command post in January of this year, before returning to military duties in Ukraine in April.
Analysts from the UK”s Ministry of Defence said Teplinskly was one of the few senior Russian generals widely respected by the rank-and-file.
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