Surovikin: A senior Russian general who disappeared after the Wagner Rebellion is appointed head of the Aerospace Forces



CNN

Russian state media reported on Wednesday, citing unnamed sources, that a senior Russian general who went missing after the Wagner Group’s rebellion in June has been dismissed from his post as commander of the country’s Aerospace Forces.

General Sergei Surovikin has spent four decades as part of the Russian military, including a short stint directing Russia’s war effort in Ukraine.

He was put in charge of the conflict in October 2022, shortly after a major explosion severely damaged the Kerch Bridge connecting annexed Crimea to mainland Russia. Surovikin was removed from this post a few months later.

He has not appeared in public since June, when he posted a video pleading with Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin to stop his rebellion. A Russian lawmaker said in July that Surovikin was “resting”.

Documents shared with CNN in June indicated that Sorovikin was a secret VIP member of Wagner. The New York Times reported in June that Sorovikin may have had advanced knowledge of the rebellion, prompting widespread speculation about his role in the rebellion.

The official Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported that Surovikin was replaced by one of his deputies, Colonel General Viktor Avzalov, former chief of the General Staff of the Aerospace Forces.

Sorovikin’s ouster comes about a month after another top general, Ivan Popov, was sacked after accusing the Defense Ministry leadership in Moscow of betraying his forces by not providing enough support.

Surovikin’s military career began with service in Afghanistan in the 1980s before he took command of a unit in the Second Chechen War in 2004. He was appointed commander-in-chief of the Russian Air Force in 2017, a position from which he was reportedly removed in 2017. Wed.

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As commander of the air force, Surovikin oversaw the Kremlin’s campaign in Syria, during which Russian fighter jets have been accused of causing widespread destruction in rebel-held areas. While Sorovikin was rewarded in Moscow for his service in Syria, Human Rights Watch alleged that Sorovikin may have been responsible for attacks that violated the laws of war and killed at least 1,600 civilians.

The brutality of those alleged attacks earned Surovikent the nickname “General Armageddon”. Gleb Erisov, one of his former subordinates, told CNN last year that Surovikin was disliked for the way he tried to implement his infantry expertise in the Air Force.

“He pissed a lot of people off — they hated him,” Erisoff said.

General Surovikin during the awards ceremony in Moscow in December 2017.

News of Sorovikin’s dismissal was initially reported by the prominent Russian journalist and former head of the now-closed Echo of Moscow radio station, Alexei Venediktov.

Venediktov posted on his Telegram channel on Tuesday that Surovikin had been dismissed from his post but would continue to serve in the Defense Ministry in another capacity.

According to sources cited by Russian business news outlet RBC, Surovikin’s removal from his position is due to his transfer to a different role, and he is currently on a short leave.

Surovikin’s official biography on the Russian Ministry of Defense website still lists him as commander of the Aerospace Forces.

CNN has reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.

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