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Kadyrov and the head of “Wagner” praise the new commander of the Russian forces

Sergey Surovikin is a veteran from Syria

An experienced warrior and far-sighted commander, for whom concepts such as patriotism, honor and dignity are always above all else. This is how Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov described the new commander-in-chief of the Russian military forces in Ukraine, Sergey Surovikin, wishing him luck and success in his service, RIA Novosti reported. “The troops are now in good hands,” he concluded.

On Saturday, exactly a day after President Vladimir Putin’s 70th birthday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu appointed General Surovikin as commander of the force grouping in the so-called special military operation. He is the second senior Russian military official with combat experience in Syria to be assigned responsibility for troop actions and strategies in Ukraine. In April, the command was taken over by General Alexander Dvornikov, but he was unable to hold on to the post.

Kadyrov and the founder of the private military group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, welcomed Shoigu’s decision, which is an important step amid recent criticism of them, provoked by the failures of Russian troops in Ukraine. Kadyrov expressed hope that Surovikin, whom he has known personally for almost 15 years, “will improve the situation on the front line” where Russian troops are failing.

Surovikin began his officer career by going to fight in Afghanistan. He is a veteran commander who led Russia’s military operation in Syria in 2017. He has been accused of using “controversial” tactics, including indiscriminate bombing of anti-government fighters. There he gets his terrible nickname Armageddon.

He was awarded the title “Hero of the Russian Federation” for courage and heroism shown while performing military duty in Syria. He was also awarded the Order of “St. George IV degree”, “Courage”, “For combat merits” and a number of medals. Over the years, he also served in Chechnya and Tajikistan.

Surovikin has been the head of the Aerospace Forces of the Russian Federation since 2017. He also commanded Russia’s Yug Group in the Ukraine military zone before heading all Russian forces on Ukrainian territory.

During the 1991 coup attempt by Soviet hardliners, Surovikin, then a captain, led an infantry division that broke through barricades erected by pro-democracy protesters. Three men were killed in the collision, one of whom was crushed, the “Guardian” recalls.

His appointment could be interpreted as Moscow’s understanding that its military is in danger of collapsing in Ukraine, with Kyiv’s forces advancing in all four regions that Putin claims to have annexed.

Yet Surovikin has a controversial history that includes two stints in prison for allegedly selling weapons and for leading a military convoy against protesters during the 1991 coup.

“For more than 30 years, Surovikin’s career has been dogged by allegations of corruption and brutality,” British intelligence said.

By appointing the controversial figure, experts say, the Kremlin may seek to counter criticism from nationalists who have accused the army of mismanaging the war in Ukraine and of failing to use tough tactics to try to force the government in Kyiv to obey.

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