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Russia appoints new ground forces chief of staff despite hawks“ criticism


Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting of the coordination council to ensure the needs of Russia’s Armed Forces, via video link in Moscow, Russia October 25, 2022. Sputnik/Alexei Babushkin/Kremlin via REUTERS

Russia has appointed Colonel-General Alexander Lapin as chief of staff of the country’s ground forces, state-owned news agency TASS reported on Tuesday, despite fierce criticism from leading hawks over his performance in Ukraine.

Lapin, previously commander of Russia’s central military district, was blasted last October by hawkish allies of President Vladimir Putin after Russian forces were driven out of the city of Lyman in eastern Ukraine, a key logistics hub.

His appointment follows other sweeping changes to Russia’s military leadership in the course of the 11-month war, in which Moscow’s forces have seized large areas of south and eastern Ukraine but suffered a series of painful defeats and retreats.

On Oct. 8, Russia named Air Force General Sergei Surovikin as the overall commander of its forces in Ukraine, shortly after the reported sacking of the commanders of the Eastern and Western military districts.

In August, the state-owned RIA news agency reported that the commander of the Black Sea Fleet had been fired after a series of humiliations including the sinking of its flagship and the loss of eight warplanes in an attack on a Russian base in Crimea.

After Russia lost Lyman in October, Lapin drew savage public criticism from Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Wagner private military group, who have both sent units to Ukraine to bolster the efforts of the regular army.

Kadyrov said Lapin should be stripped of his medals and sent to the front with a gun to wash away his shame with blood.

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