After only a few months in office, the Russian “General Armageddon”, Sergei Surovikin, has to give up his post as commander in the Ukraine war. The Russian Ministry of Defense appointed Valery Gerasimov as the new commander-in-chief. The final decision was of course up to Vladimir Putin – and according to an analysis by the “Institute for the Study of War” (ISW) there are two main reasons behind the personnel decision.
And yet: Gerasimov is doomed to failure.
According to the “ISW”, Gerasimov should primarily ensure that the Russian military achieves a decisive victory in Ukraine in the current year. The “ISW” suspects that a new offensive is being planned in the Luhansk Oblast. After several defeats in the past year, for example at Kyiv, Kharkiv and Cherson, Putin’s army urgently needs a victory to turn the momentum in the Ukraine war, which is not going according to plan.
The second reason for Gerasimov’s appointment: the internal conflict between the political authorities (mainly the Kremlin and the Defense Ministry) and the influential group of “siloviki” around Wagner boss Prigozhin and Chechen leader Kadyrov. The group repeatedly criticized Russia’s actions in the war.
The ousted General Surovikin was considered a favorite of the “Siloviki”, Gerasimov is not at all. Internally, Surovikin is said to have repeatedly clashed with Defense Minister Shoigu. According to the “ISW” analysis, the appointment of Gerasimov should now limit the influence of the “Siloviki” in Russia.
But even under a new supreme commander, the Russian military will not be able to turn things around in the war against Ukraine. The problems that the Russian military has to date are too deep, according to the ISW. Gerasimov supported the original invasion plan, which envisaged a quick conquest of Kiev and victory within a few days – the result is well known: the Russian military suffered a painful defeat and victory is not in sight even after eleven months.
According to the “ISW”, Gerasimov will not be able to solve the deep problems of the Russian military – badly trained soldiers, bad equipment, bad morale – and is therefore doomed to failure.