Russia Replaces Military Leadership in Ukraine with Alexander Dvornikov – After more than 45 days without achieving any of their initial objectives that were expected to be met within 2-3 days, the Russian Ministry of Defense has conducted a shakeup of its military leadership in Ukraine.
The commander of Russia’s southern military district, General Alexander Dvornikov, has been given overall command of the Ukrainian invasion according to sources. Dvornikov reportedly has extensive experience in Syria, during the Russian operations in support of the Bashar al-Assad regime during the Syrian Civil War.
“That particular commander has a lot of experience of operations of Russian operations in Syria. So we would expect the overall command and control to improve,” the source said to the BBC.
Dvornikov’s assumption of leadership is expected to have an impact on coordination between the different units involved in the invasion. Prior to this, individual Russian units were operating individually with no central command and control overseeing combat operations. That has proved to be a disaster as the attacks conducted separately have not been mutually supportive of each other.
Between this strategic mistake and several others, the Russian military has been ground to a halt. The Ukrainian military has made massive changes and upgrades since the 2014 Russian invasion where they annexed Crimea. The Ukrainian tactics, including getting massive civilian support in hit-and-run attacks have been a major factor in slowing the Russian advance.
Dvornikov has several factors working against him. Not the least of which is that Moscow (meaning President Vladimir Putin) is expecting an “announceable success” in eastern Ukraine by May 9, the day Russia commemorates the Great Patriotic War’s (what the Russians call World War II) victory.
Russia, despite two decades of modernization for the military, still has a very limited professional NCO corps, relies heavily on conscript troops, and ignored the warmer weather this winter, which made their armored corps road-bound, which resulted in massive losses due to Ukrainian ambushes. Their logistical issues are still a major issue.
Dvornikov’s Military Career, Including Allegations of War Crimes:
Dvornikov joined the Red Army in 1978 after graduating from the Ussuriysk Suvorov Military School, and has served in several various assignments in his military career, including the Western Group of Forces, and was assigned as a battalion commander to the 6th Guards Motor Rifle Brigade. He also commanded regiments in the 10th Guards Tank Division and the 2nd Guards Motor Rifle Division in the late 1990s.
He rose through the ranks to become the chief of staff in the North Caucasus Military District and later was given the command of a motor rifle division. He was promoted to become the 36th Army’s deputy commander and chief of staff after graduating from the Military Academy of the General Staff. Rising up even further, he was given command of the 5th Red Banner Army in 2008.
After being promoted to Colonel General he was assigned in September 2015, as the first commander of the Russian Armed Forces in Syria during Moscow’s intervention on behalf of the Assad regime in Syria. In March 2016, he was awarded the title Hero of the Russian Federation for his leadership.
He was promoted to Army General and has been the commander of the Russian Southern Military District since 2016, until assuming command of the Ukrainian invasion.
The state-run newspaper Rossiisskaya Gazeta quoted Dvornikov in 2016 as stating, “I will not hide the fact that on the territory of Syria there is a division of our special operations forces,” he said.
“They perform supplementary reconnaissance on targets for Russian airstrikes, they are engaged in guiding aircraft to targets in remote areas, and perform other special tasks.”
Many of those airstrikes in Syria have followed a familiar pattern in Ukraine in attempting to indiscriminately target and terrorize the civilian population and were characterized by the Human Rights Watch as war crimes.
Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for more than 10 years and his work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.