Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has sacked a top general in charge of the war against Ukraine as he continues his purge of the top brass following Wagner’s attempted coup last month.
General Valery Gerasimov, 67, has been ousted as conflict commander less than six months after he was appointed. He has been replaced by Colonel-General Mikhail Teplinskiy, according to Russian media.
The truculent move by Putin – which has not officially been confirmed – is the latest upheaval in the command of his almost 17-month invasion of Ukraine.
During his ill-conceived war, the Russian despot has fired several leaders including Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, also known as ‘The Butcher of Mariupol‘, as well as General Rustam Muradov who was behind the massacre in Vuhledar earlier this year.
Gerasimov will remain in charge of the Russian armed forces as chief of the general staff but overall responsibility for the war now goes to Teplinskiy, 54, commander of the country’s airborne troops, according to The Moscow Times citing military-linked pro-war Z-channels.
It comes after Putin, desperately recovering from Yevgeny Prigozhin’s mutiny last month, is furious and humiliated by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky bringing key commanders of the Azov regiment home from Turkey.
The dictator claims he has been ‘deceived’ over an agreement at the end of the Siege of Mariupol that Azov commander Denys Prokopenko, 32, and his lieutenants would remain in Turkey until the end of the raging war.
Putin is also likely to be further enraged by Zelensky’s visit to the the liberated Snake Island in the Black Sea to mark the 500th day of the war.
The move to fire Gerasimov comes just weeks after Wagner’s armed revolt against Putin’s regime which was instigated by the private mercenary group’s warlord leader Prigozhin, once a close Putin crony.
Earlier this week, Putin hit back as state media leaked images that appeared to show the Wagner chief wearing a set of laughable disguises.
The removal of Gerasimov also coincides with a NATO summit in Lithuania this week which is expected to deepen Western support for Ukraine, and a decision by US president Joe Biden to sanction the supply of controversial cluster bombs to Kyiv.
Gerasimov has not been seen in public since the mutiny as Putin seeks to pin blame elsewhere for failings in the war.