Moscow taps General Alexander Dvornikov to command Russian forces in Ukraine


Alexander Dvornikov, the commander of the Russian Army’s Southern Military District, is pictured far right with Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) in 2020 aboard the missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov observing exercises in Crimea, which has was annexed to Ukraine in 2014. File photo by Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/EPA-EFE

April 9 (UPI) — Moscow has tapped General Alexander Dvornikov to lead the Russian invasion of Ukraine as part of a reorganization aimed at unifying the military command structure and changing its warfare tactics, reports said on Saturday.

Senior Western officials, who have not been identified, said The New York Times and the BBC that Dvornikov, the commander of Russia’s Southern Military District, was chosen to oversee poorly coordinated Russian troops who faced incredible resistance from Ukrainian forces

It was not immediately clear if the sources who spoke with both outlets are the same source and Russia has yet to confirm the leadership change.

Russian forces struggled to achieve their military objectives in Ukraine, such as capturing the capital of kyiv, because the country’s troops had been commanded from Moscow without a central leader on the battlefield, a senior US official said. at the New York Times.

The senior official who spoke to the BBC confirmed that each Russian unit had previously been ordered separately. Dvornikov will now unify Russian forces under a central command in Ukraine.

“This commander in particular has extensive operational experience of Russian operations in Syria, so we expect overall command and control to improve,” the source told the BBC.

The appointment of Dvornikov, who has been described as the “butcher of Syria” and one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s favorite generals, has also raised fears that the war in Ukraine is getting bloodier.

Dvornikov rose to prominence in 2015 for ordering the bombings of Aleppo that killed thousands, including 200 children, The Telegraph noted. He also helped develop Russia’s strategy to target civilian infrastructure like bakeries and hospitals.

The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, said in a report analyzing the lessons learned by the Russian military in Syria Dvornikov had previously said that demoralization and ineffective command were pervasive in the Syrian Arab Army throughout that conflict.

After Syria, Russian military leaders, including Dvornikov, determined that Russia had “effectively coordinated precision strikes with tactical units in urban operations, using both aircraft and Kalibr cruise missiles in a role close support,” according to the think tank.

“Russian officers and analysts further point to Russia’s ability to disrupt enemy supply lines and logistics with precision weapons as a key lesson from Syria,” the report said. “Dvornikov credited Russia’s coordinated effort to destroy anti-Assad supply chains with disrupting opposition offensive capabilities and giving the pro-regime coalition the operational initiative in early 2016.”

News of Dvornikov’s appointment came during a Russian missile strike on a crowded train station in eastern Ukraine, where dozens of people were killed as thousands waited to be evacuated.

The Syrian Revolution Network, a group that opposed the Russian-backed government of President Bashar al-Assad, condemned Russia for its appointment of Dvornikov over troops in Ukraine and the general’s “genocidal” tactics. .

“Having failed so far in #Ukraine except for committing war crimes, Putin has appointed a new commander of the Southern Military District, General Alexander Dvornikov, with extensive experience in committing heinous crimes of genocide against defenseless civilians in #Syria,” the group said. tweeted.

Dvornikov has been leading the Southern Military District since 2016. He was rewarded the title of Hero of the Russian Federation by the Kremlin.

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