Top Ukrainian general eyes leadership shake-up

Connie Queline

Top Ukrainian general eyes leadership shake-up

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The commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces has signalled he will replace some military leaders on the eastern front.

Gen Oleksandr Syrskyi said after three days of work it had become clear why some brigades were managing to hold off Russian attacks while others had not.

It comes after Ukraine withdrew its troops from Avdiivka – a key eastern town besieged by Russian forces.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said the decision was made to save lives.

Avdiivka has been engulfed in fierce fighting for months and has been a battlefield town since 2014, when Russian-backed fighters seized large swathes of the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The fall of Avdiivka marks the biggest change on the more than 1,000km-long (620-mile) front line since Russian troops seized the nearby town of Bakhmut in May 2023.

This week Ukraine’s military said it had withdrawn from two more villages near Avdiivka, losing more territory as weapons and ammunition from its Western allies runs short.

Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

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Gen Syrskyi said he would change those commanders whose orders and actions threatened the lives of their troops.

He wrote on Telegram: “First of all, it depends on the brigade commander, his level of training, experience, ability to make adequate and balanced decisions and understanding of the full responsibility for the performance of assigned tasks and for the life and health of his subordinates.

“Undoubtedly, the level of training and co-ordination of the brigade headquarters, through which the commander exercises his powers, plays a great role.

“Therefore, I have sent groups of specialists to individual brigades where there are problems with the preparation of the headquarters to transfer experience and provide assistance.”

Map showing how Russian forces have advanced around Avdiivka since October

But, Gen Syrskyi praised some brigades, and promised – after listening to front-line units – to provide reserves, ammunition and expertise to back them up.

He insisted the situation on the front line “remains difficult, but controlled”.

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Separately in Russia, two buildings in St Petersburg were damaged and people were evacuated on Saturday morning after local residents reported a loud explosion which blew out windows.

St Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov said “an incident” had taken place in the eastern district of Krasnogvardeysky.

Emergency services specialists work by a damaged apartment block after an alleged drone attack reported by local media, in Saint Petersburg

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There were no casualties, but residents were evacuated from their apartments, Beglov said, without explaining the cause of the incident or its nature.

Russian media outlets reported it could have been caused by a downed Ukrainian drone, which was heading towards a nearby fuel depot, according to the Reuters news agency.

There has been no official confirmation of this from the Kremlin or state media.

Meanwhile in Ukraine, authorities said two people were killed and a further eight were wounded after a Russian drone crashed into an apartment block in the southern port city of Odesa on Saturday.

Related Topics

  • War in Ukraine
  • Russia
  • Ukraine

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